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'Far from sushi I was reared... but after a squad meal, I'm converted'

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Munster players, from left, Lee Nicholas, James Coughlan, James Cronin and Stephen Archer during a maul at a squad training session

Munster players, from left, Lee Nicholas, James Coughlan, James Cronin and Stephen Archer during a maul at a squad training session

Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne

Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne

Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

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Munster players, from left, Lee Nicholas, James Coughlan, James Cronin and Stephen Archer during a maul at a squad training session

IT seems like an age since we played a Pro12 game, but it will be nice to get back onto the field tomorrow as we face Cardiff Blues in Thomond. Our last league action came in Ulster at the start of the year, but it seems that so much has happened in those five short weeks.

As a result the chance to step away for a couple of days during the down week was most welcome. It was a hectic few of weeks before with the Heineken Cup, the Ireland squad and the Wolfhounds game.

After missing out on the Ireland squad for the Six Nations, I took my frustrations out on the gym a bit during the week, but I soon got over it. I trained with the lads on Friday last which was great, and I ended up going over to London to visit my girlfriend after that. I just spent a couple of days over there and made it back in time for training again on Monday.

Despite not being involved I couldn't not watch the Ireland-Scotland match. It was a good win for the boys, it was a very good second half especially. The first half probably wasn't the best, they didn't get the momentum they wanted, but any time you can beat a team in the Six Nations in your first game and rack up a fairly decent score along the way, you have got to be happy.

Unlike the Heineken Cup, in the Six Nations the focus is a bit different as there are no bonus points up for grabs. A win is a win, and getting such a comfortable win is a good sign ahead of this weekend against Wales.

PREPARATION

After getting back from London we had a big squad session on Monday and Tuesday. The Cork lads spent the night in Limerick and we had a two-day camp in preparation for a busy few weeks ahead. We trained well on Monday and did quite a bit of our homework, which put us in good shape for the rest of the week. We slotted in a gym session as well on Monday, which I always enjoy.

The lads trained very well in the camp, it's always great when we get to spend a bit more time together ahead of a game. The conditions weren't the best for field work with all the wind and rain, but we got everything done that we needed to. We kept it short on Monday, and limited the field time to about 30 minutes, but we made sure we had our heads on and made good use of the time.

All the Cork-based lads stayed in the Castletroy Hotel, which is pretty close to my own place. Us Limerick lads stayed at home – I prefer my own bed anyway – but from what I hear, the boys were well taken care of in the hotel with nice surroundings and facilities.

With the full squad around, we all went out for a slap-up dinner, but instead of all going to the same place we were broken up into four groups and sent off to different restaurants. There was a big number of us heading out so logistically it was smart I suppose.

The only thing is, I never know if it's good luck to be lumped in with Damien Varley's group on occasions like these. He was given the job of picking our venue and we ended up in a new sushi restaurant in Limerick called 'Taikichi'.

There was a good few of us in the group: Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, James Coughlan, Billy Holland, Cian Bohane and Gerry Hurley were there with myself and Varls. I must admit there were some eyebrows raised when we heard where we were going as we are not too familiar with Japanese cuisine.

I really didn't know what to make of it beforehand, but I must say after the feed we got in Taikichi, I'm a big fan of it now. I was very impressed with it. You'll probably all be saying 'it's far from sushi you were brought up' and you'd be spot on, but there are no complaints this week. Well done Varls, we'll give you this one.

There has been no avoiding it this week, the weather has been brutal. Thankfully none of the lads in the squad seem to have been affected by the flooding here in Limerick.

My home place is out in Castletroy and we were fine, but some of the houses in along the river got a bad doing. It looks like the same thing has happened in Cork too. It's terrible to see, but hopefully that will be the last of it.

We have had plenty of practice in the wind and rain this week, so whatever is thrown at us tomorrow we'll be ready. Personally, I am looking forward to putting in as good a performance as I can, but from a team view, the aim is to keep winning as many games with Munster and hold on to top spot in the Pro12. We set a few goals for ourselves this week and keeping our performances levels high in the Pro12 was one of the main ones, especially when the internationals are away.

Like ourselves, Cardiff will have a few lads away for the international match, but I'm sure they'll get a few of them released back to their camp as well ahead of their trip to Thomond. I'm not sure if Robin Copeland will be playing or not, but even without him they are very strong and have been mighty impressive in the Heineken Cup especially.

When we played them earlier this season in Cardiff they had a really strong pack and I'm likely to come up against either Taufa'ao Filise or Benoit Bourrust. They are both good scrummagers but we had a good return against them in Cardiff and we'll be looking to do it again in Thomond Park.

An 11th win of the campaign is the target.

Irish Independent