Friday 23 February 2018

Break to the sun has everyone warmed up for big finish to season

Munster's Tommy O'Donnell made the most of a late call-up with a fine performance against Italy in Rome last Saturday
Munster's Tommy O'Donnell made the most of a late call-up with a fine performance against Italy in Rome last Saturday

Dave Kilcoyne

It seems like forever since I played a competitive game, but all going well, tomorrow I hope to get back on to the field for Munster at Irish Independent Park.

Since I picked up the knee injury against Clermont at Thomond Park the road back has been straight without hitches, but in the end I had to give in to the race I set myself and make it back on schedule.

I'm not sure what role I'll be asked to play tomorrow against Cardiff Blues, but whatever the management ask of me I'll be ready to do it to the best of my ability as always.

The last two weeks has been great. It started off with the warm weather training camp in Lanzarote, and we backed it up again in the last few days with more good work in Limerick and Cork.

I mentioned the warm weather camp we had last week, and that's just what it was - warm.

I don't think any of us came home with a sunburn, apart from the usual lads who attack the sunbeds, but from my recovery point of view it was just what the doctor ordered and I am raring to go now and kick on for the rest of the season.

While it wasn't too hot, it wasn't cold either, so that bit of heat helps your body cope with injuries.

ACHES

You can feel aches that bit more in the cold when you are doing rehab here in Ireland. We had a cold week at home so from a personal point of view it was really good to get away.

When you are away on a camp like that, you train in the morning, do your weights, then go out to your pitch session, but afterwards I was able to go away and do my rehab, get my physio and my massage everyday.

From a group point of view we did four pitch sessions over there. So we got a lot of work done and prepped really well for tomorrow's game.

We worked on a lot of individual skills which you probably don't get a chance to do during the year, and we also had the bonding side of it which is very important on a trip like that.

It's funny, you really notice how tight the group becomes after a break like that.

The chance to get to know some of the lads that you mightn't know as well as others is great and that can only help us in the coming weeks and months as we head into a crucial period.

As well as the work on the field there was a good few laughs off it. Evening times usually brought a few hands of cards and we invented our own brand of the game 'Lies'.

Stephen Archer generally is the forfeit in that game so it is up to him to decide what punishment you get if you lose.

He is a harsh task master and there was a few nasty ones doled out. I am certain some lads wouldn't want me discussing what they were subjected to in the national newspapers - especially Robin Copeland!

From my point of view, though, it was a week well spent. Because I was ready to return to full training on the first day, the progress was pretty significant.

I went pretty quickly from three on three scrummaging, to five on five and full scrums by the end of the trip.

I came through it all unscathed and felt pretty good about everything. The knee felt solid, the fitness has improved and I feel as if I'm ready for some action tomorrow against Cardiff.

The big highlight of last weekend then was obviously seeing the lads pick up their first win of the Six Nations away against Italy. All in all I think it was a good game.

It always important for Ireland to win that first game and try and build some momentum ahead of tomorrow's game with France at the Aviva Stadium.

Some people might say it wasn't the most exciting game to watch, but sometimes you just have to keep it tight and grind out the win and move on from there.

I was delighted for all the lads, especially all the Munster boys: I thought Ian Keatley and Tommy O'Donnell did really well, but it was the stereotypical team effort which carried them through.

While the boys will be shaping up to France tomorrow, I'm don't think we'll get to see any of it until after our game, but that's where our focus has to be really.

We have our own job to do and that is the main priority for all of us, of course.

Like ourselves, Cardiff will be missing a good few lads from their squad with international duty, but with players like Adam Jones - like myself he has something to prove - Josh Navidi and Rhys Pratchell there, they'll have a strong team out too.

But we are heading into the business end of the season and every game is vital from here to the end of the campaign, so it is important we go into every match with the right approach.

It is very tight at the top of the table and that is unlikely to change, so we need to make sure we copperfasten our position and keep up the momentum the whole way through.

The Pro12 is all we have left at this stage and we are determined to do extremely well so every match is vital all the way through to the end of the campaign.

With it being out first game in the new Irish Independent Park the game takes on an extra significance, and we are very keen to get our run of games there off to a good start

A win is what we all want, but I'd love some game-time to add to it too.

Irish Independent

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