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David Wallace: 'If you look through their team, Munster now have more individual x-factor than Leinster'


Jean Kleyn of Munster celebrates with team-mate Peter O'Mahony

Jean Kleyn of Munster celebrates with team-mate Peter O'Mahony

Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile

Peter O'Mahony. Photo: Sportsfile



Jean Kleyn of Munster celebrates with team-mate Peter O'Mahony

We've seen Munster shine in some big games of late, but another win tonight in Gloucester will have them in great shape facing into 2019.

While their Christmas schedule got off to a disappointing start in Belfast, the classy displays in victory against Leinster and Connacht bode well for Johann van Graan's side for the rest of the season.

Considering Connacht were hot on Munster's heels, last weekend's game at the Sportsground was hugely important from a PRO14 point of view.

As a result we saw a very strong team named. I think Peter O'Mahony - arguably the most influential player in the province - was rested to be available for the Connacht game, and that shows where the mindset was from Munster.

The Leinster win was the big moment in my eyes though.

Munster felt aggrieved after the game in the Aviva earlier this season, so to turn them over at Thomond Park was vital for their confidence.

Leinster don't lose too often - they've only lost three times this season - so any time you beat them it is a serious achievement. And when they come fully loaded it makes it all the better; they were up for the fight.

Aside from the win in that game, the notable thing was that Munster seemed to be the more streetwise side. Leinster lost their cool, while Munster learned so much from their Castres defeat.

Leinster looked like the alpha dogs who were feeling threatened by an up-and-coming team.

Munster need to take confidence from that reaction. If you look through their team, I think Munster now have more individual x-factor than Leinster.

Leinster are a brilliantly-rounded and well-drilled unit, but the likes of Keith Earls, Andrew Conway, CJ Stander, O'Mahony, Tadhg Beirne, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery... the list goes on of guys that can make huge plays to turn a game.

They should see themselves as contenders in every competition they play now.

Against Connacht, Munster certainly had a great day at set-piece, but we have to say that they faced a home pack without the likes of Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Sean O'Brien and Jarrad Butler from the start.

Nevertheless, it was an excellent showing from the Munster pack.

It was really tough on Chris Farrell to pick up another knock and hopefully he gets some good news from his scans and will be back sooner than later.

But we saw at the weekend that Dan Goggin is in great form - even though he was caught out in defence once or twice -, Sammy Arnold is a top player, and Rory Scannell seems to be the first choice in the 12 shirt.

With Jaco Taute and Tyler Bleyendaal there too, Munster have options.

Meanwhile, I'm sure he'll play down the achievement for now, but it is a real milestone for Billy Holland to win his 200th cap for the province.

Looking back, it's a big thing for me now. I won my 200th cap in the Magners League final against Leinster in 2011.

Having all my family there was great, and for Billy he should be really proud of getting there.

I'm sure the last few weeks for him have been busy, becoming a father for the first time, so congrats to him all round.

All attention now switches back to Europe and while Gloucester lost out heavily to Leicester last weekend I suspect this will be a really tough game for Munster.

They are fourth in the Premiership table and we also saw the challenge they brought a couple of months ago at Thomond Park.

They backed that up by beating Exeter at Sandy Park, although Exeter returned the favour straight away.

They're very, very dangerous. Going to play in front of The Shed will be an experience, I've played there a few times and it's one of the toughest grounds to play in.

They have the game-breakers there too. The likes of Matt Banahan and Charlie Sharples on the wing are really dangerous.

Billy Twelvetrees was very impressive at Thomond Park and he has continually produced his best form at 13 for them this season.

If Munster don't get on top up front it could be a very tough day against that backline. But I expect to see a big performance from the province.

Irish Independent