Thursday 22 February 2018

Costello wants full steam ahead

Munster players Niall Scannell, Sean Dougall, JJ Hanrahan and Duncan Williams go through their paces at UL
Munster players Niall Scannell, Sean Dougall, JJ Hanrahan and Duncan Williams go through their paces at UL

John Fallon

Ireland's bid to retain the Six Nations title may be the primary focus at the moment, with Munster players to the forefront in that bid, but the drive to keep chalking up the results in the Pro12 is no less intense.

Munster have four matches during the Six Nations and kicked off the first of those in fine style with that 33-16 win over Cardiff last weekend.

But they face two demanding tests in Wales and in between those will host Glasgow Warriors in a top-of-the-table clash as the race for semi-final places intensifies.

"This block is huge for us," said assistant coach Ian Costello. "The first round of it was last weekend with Cardiff. We were very satisfied with that win, especially the performance in the second half.

"Scarlets play like Cardiff, they play that expansive type of game with a huge amount of continuity.

"In my opinion they are a far better side. The have the best home record in the league. They are unbeaten at home. They have scored more points at home than anyone else in the competition. They score more tries than anyone else.

"We are under no illusion what we are facing.

"Where they are really effective is the unstructured part of the game - quick tap, counter attacks, quick throws.

"The looser the game is the more they like it, so it is all going to be about controlling the ball for us, controlling the tempo of the game and suffocating them so they don't have the opportunities."

And in a week when skipper Peter O'Mahony pledged his future to the province for the next three years and Munster continue their quest to strengthen their squad, Costello said it was an opportunity for players to shine during the international window.

"What this time of the year is about is looking at the depth of your squad and getting performances, and if you get results on the back of it, it puts you in a really good position," he said.

"I probably didn't see the Dragons result in the RDS coming, but we had a feeling the Ospreys would find it tough.

"We all have tough games. We play Glasgow and the Ospreys soon as well. At the end of these four weeks we will have a clearer picture of the way the play-offs look."

Irish Independent

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