Saturday 21 April 2018

A lot can be learnt from manner of Irish victory

Simon Zebo is back from Ireland duty to boost Munster’s options for tomorrow’s clash with Connacht
Simon Zebo is back from Ireland duty to boost Munster’s options for tomorrow’s clash with Connacht

Jerry Flannery

We kept everyone busy last week with our training programme but it's good to get back to game-time now, and after the break since the Ospreys defeat we are rearing to go again.

And with Ireland's fantastic performance last weekend the guys are really buzzed, looking forward to getting some of our national lads back in and trying to push on.

We had Felix Jones, Simon Zebo and Tommy O'Donnell back with us and they trained during the week so it was really good to have them back in the mix.

It's a testament to them as well that they're able to get their heads back into the Pro12 game only a week after all the excitement of the Six Nations win.

It's a big game for us tomorrow but it's a big game for Connacht as well and it's an inter-provincial derby so there's no love lost there.

We're sitting third, they are sixth and a win is huge for them to keep them in contention - it would be huge for us as well as we are four points off the top and every point is vital at this stage with the table shifting each week.

We learned from the Ospreys game that we need to look at it now from the opposition's point of view as well. We hadn't realised how much they had built that game up.

This time around we are looking at it like it's a huge game for Connacht.

RUINED

We were also very disappointed with our performance when we went up to the Sportsground on New Year's Day. Connacht were excellent and they deserved their win and it kind of ruined our Christmas so we're looking forward to trying to put that straight.

No-one's ever going to underestimate Connacht but it just showed how good a side they are when they beat us. They were pretty comprehensive against us.

The lads here feel that we didn't get a chance to show them just what we can do and that's down to how well they played. Munster have to go out and try and impose themselves on Connacht and dictate the tempo of the game.

The lads had their first training session of the week on Tuesday. Then on the Wednesday we had a weights session, analysis and conditioning and we got back in together after that.

We tried to condense the majority of our work in to last week so that we could shorten the sessions this week in the lead-up to the game. Yesterday the session was very short and sharp and then that was the majority of the work done and dusted.

It will be a fairly busy weekend with the match and the stress levels will be fairly high, although not as bad as last weekend as a spectator. I watched the Six Nations unfold at home, and it was an unbelievable advertisement for the game on Saturday last.

From the very start, there were so many small plays that had such a big effect throughout the course of the day. Jamie Heaslip's tackle on Stuart Hogg and Leonardo Sarto's breakaway try at the very end for Italy stood out.

I had a feeling Wales would put that kind of score on Italy and I thought that Ireland had it within their means to put up whatever score was needed over Scotland after the Italian game. But what really got me was the England and France game and how that unfolded.

I just never saw it panning out the way it did - it was incredibly exciting and it was a great way for the championship to finish up after all the talk of how it hadn't lived up to expectations prior to that.

I have heard lots of people questioning the direction that rugby is going, but last Saturday show just showed how awesome the sport is. A lot of play is becoming so dependent on what happens in the set-piece but it demonstrated that when teams have to, they can really open up and there is a lot of skill in the game of rugby today.

Over the course of a season people are going to look at playing the percentages, and that's what each side had done throughout the campaign. But last weekend showed that all of the teams in the Six Nations are able to open up when they need to.

You could see that sort of play from Munster in recent games as well and we can't wait to get out on a dry Thomond Park surface tomorrow and put in a good performance.

Irish Independent

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