Cronin relishing 'physical' battle with Connacht
Munster prop knows the importance of getting edge in the front-row against Pat Lam's league leaders
James Cronin is asked about his experiences of playing against Connacht and he responds "it's always physical".
Given his flashpoint with Nathan White in the meeting between the two sides two years ago, his description was somewhat apt.
That evening in Thomond Park, Cronin's head became acquainted with Nathan White's forceful hands.
White didn't take too kindly to Cronin tapping him on the head following a scrum and the ensuing melee resulted in both players being shown a yellow card. Connacht may still be a physical force up front but they've added so much more to their game since then and Cronin is only too aware of that.
"We never get anything easy out of Connacht," the loosehead prop said.
"They are in brilliant form at the moment, but even when they haven't been going so well, they will have a big game against Munster regardless. They are top of the table and will be coming down looking for a scalp.
"They are very well drilled. Pat Lam has done a brilliant job with them. They wouldn't be top of the table otherwise. We have a big task in front of us, but look, we are at home, it's Thomond Park and we will be trying to maintain our own home record.
"In pre-season we got a bit of a walloping off them and that is still hurting us a tiny bit. I have played them a couple of times over the years and it's always physical, one-score encounters. We know what is in front of us and we are preparing as best we can."
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Injury curtailed any hope the 25-year old had of making a late bolt to be included in Joe Schmidt's World Cup squad and although he is eager to add to his two caps, Cronin isn't getting ahead of himself as he looks to cement his place in the Munster XV.
"You can't look too far ahead. I'm going alright at the moment, but that is all it is," the Cork native maintained. "You are only one injury away from not playing. I found that out last season so it's keeping the head down and going one game at a time."
Munster will go into Saturday's game against Connacht on the back of a weekend off following the postponement of their Champions Cup clash in Paris against Stade Francais and Cronin insists that the players have benefited from the short break.
Cronin is likely to come up against White and he knows how important it is to get the edge in the front-row.
"Look, we had the weekend off, everyone recovered, and you can see everyone bouncing around today," he added.
"They always say scrum is king and it is. Set-piece is massive, line-out, scrum.
"That is where games are won and lost nowadays. If you have a good platform to work off of, it's half the battle."