Sunday 25 February 2018

Best form in years has put a real belief in the squad

Glasgow ripe for picking now - despite tough away date

Peter O’Mahony Photo: Sportsfile
Peter O’Mahony Photo: Sportsfile

David Wallace

There were a number of internationals missing for Munster last weekend, but it was brilliant to see them put another team to the sword and dispose of Treviso. Munster are in steady hands while the Irish guys are away and it was the perfect game to get back into action.

Glasgow Warriors have been having a bit of a torrid time of late and they are probably there for the taking tonight. But Glasgow will be looking for revenge after their Champions Cup loss at Thomond Park and they will have a lot of guys back from international duty as well. That will make a massive difference.

It's important Munster win this one, and with the Champions Cup just around the corner - Glasgow are in Munster's pool - it's the perfect opportunity to keep the momentum going, with inter-provincial derbies coming up as well.

This is an unusually important block for Munster, it's important to lay down a marker and continue to make headway in Europe where they have an extra Champions Cup fixture thrown in.

As for this weekend, Scotland have been going well with a big win over Georgia and they should have beaten Australia too - Glasgow will be buoyed by that.

The Warriors have had a few losses and the Champions Cup defeat against Munster will be to the forefront of their minds. That match was heated at times too.

It will be a tense affair, Glasgow are traditionally one of Munster's bogey teams. Scotstoun is a difficult place to play because they really raise their standards there.

The champions from 2015 are not a weak team and they are definitely capable of coming back into form. But with the way Munster are playing, there is no reason why they can't win over there.

It's been a while since Munster have been top of the Pro12 at this stage of the season. Last year they were struggling to qualify for Europe, but it's night and day with regards to where they stand now.

I had a chance to look around the high-performance centre last week, and it's amazing. Having the players in one place with that facility, and the coaching they are getting, it all seems to be clicking into place.


There is a feel-good factor around Munster, the public are feeding into it but it's all credit to the players who have performed so admirably.

And another team doing that is Ireland - with all that was thrown at them you just have to be impressed by their character and fortitude. They are building something special.

The way they fronted up against Australia was amazing. You have two scrum-halves and two out-halves playing out of position, guys lacking international experience, against one of the most potent attacking forces in the world.

Losing so many experienced players before and during the game, to still pull a victory out of a game like that, it was astonishing.

What was even more impressive that Australia had their purple patch, and Ireland had the wherewithal to come back and clinch a win. To get that try, with the replacements that they brought making such an impact, was exceptional.

Very few international teams have the depth of talent in their match-day 23 that they can spring the likes of Cian Healy, Ultan Dillane, Peter O'Mahony and Simon Zebo off the bench.

At the moment Ireland could field three very strong international teams and that is really promising going forward - coupled with the character they showed against Australia, it's exciting times for Joe Schmidt's men.

Ireland have the talent and ability to go forward and really compete with the top teams in international rugby, because they are among the best now.

The Rugby World Cup might not be taking place until 2019, but those years can fly by and Ireland should be ready to make more of an impact this time around.

But we won't see them again until February in the Six Nations. In the meantime, Munster have some crucial games coming, they need to keep the momentum flowing against Glasgow this weekend.

With victories over Glasgow, Ulster, Ospreys and Treviso, Munster have shown some of their best form in years in the last couple of months, and hopefully they can maintain that into a tricky festive period where it only gets tougher.

Irish Independent

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