Tuesday 23 January 2018

Clear focus means we're game-ready

Munster head coach Anthony Foley looks on during training in Irish Independent Park
Munster head coach Anthony Foley looks on during training in Irish Independent Park

Ian Costello

Our focus for the last three rounds of the Pro12 will be on winning each of our games, finishing top of the league and securing a home semi-final. We will approach each on a game-by-game basis but our objectives are clear.

We won't fall into the trap of looking beyond the Treviso game but the reality is that a number of the top-six teams will be playing each other this weekend. If we do our job against Treviso, we should see some separation in the top four.

It is great to have a game at home again in Cork where we have played pretty well this season but we won't take Treviso for granted.

They are a good side and at the moment they're playing quality rugby. They have several dangerous players so we expect a tough challenge.

I would be quick to point out that there is no easy games at this time of the season, at this stage everything is to play for. Treviso need to finish ahead of Zebre to qualify for Champions Cup rugby next season and they're marginally ahead as it stands so they won't be lacking motivation.

There are a lot of the top teams playing each other this weekend with Leinster playing Ulster and Glasgow away to Connacht.

If we get our job done, get our four points, the other results will look after themselves and we'll have a clearer picture of how the teams stand after Saturday.

We certainly won't be talking about getting five points, especially when we're up against Treviso who are an extremely physical side. We will be all about getting a performance and putting a process in place to win the game. If that's good enough to manage to score four tries that's a bonus at the end of the day.

The last round showed how competitive things are at the summit with all the top teams getting five points. That is the nature of this stage of the season.

The intensity rises and each fixture becomes far more competitive - I'd expect this weekend to rise another level in terms of physicality and intensity as the league stages near a climax. We will be firmly focused on getting a win, whatever it takes.

When you analyse Treviso the key thing is that they play with a huge amount of width. They play with a lot of speed and pace. They've quite a strong continuity game and if you allow them to play at the pace they want to play, they are going to be very dangerous.

They have a destructive scrum and they use their lineout as a launch-pad to attack, something they have thrived on in recent years. They've always been one of the most innovative teams when it comes to the set-piece.

You can be sure you will get something a little bit unexpected from them, something that will test your systems and structures. That will be what we are preparing for and we will need to expect the unexpected.

It's a massive game for us and hopefully this weekend's rugby can live up to what went on last weekend in Europe - it was good to see Saracens and Leinster both put the two French sides to the pin of their collar.

Leinster did well to take their game to extra-time. It was a pity they were ten points behind before they really started to play because they showed a lot more attacking capabilities when their backs were to the wall.


Maybe if they had adopted that type of play a little earlier it could've been a different result. The Toulon indiscipline kept them in the game and Madigan was kicking particularly well.

It was similar to what happened between Munster and Toulon last year but we made two errors off kick-off receipt. We dropped two balls, one cost us a penalty and one cost us a drop-goal. We felt that was a crucial turning point in the game.

For me, Clermont are probably the strongest team in this year's competition, have played the best rugby to date and would be my favourites to win the cup. Unfortunately, this won't concern us this season, our focus is solely on winning the Pro12 and beating Treviso tomorrow is the next step.

Irish Independent

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