Monday 23 April 2018

Great to be back from injury and firing on all cylinders once again

Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue tackles Rhys Priestland of Scarlets during the Pro12 game at Parc Y Scarlets in Wales
Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue tackles Rhys Priestland of Scarlets during the Pro12 game at Parc Y Scarlets in Wales

Dave Kilcoyne

At last, I got my first start and full 80 minutes in a long time at Parc y Scarlets and I am raring to go again this weekend in another massive game against Glasgow.

The PCL injury that I had to my knee is fully healed now. It was such a good feeling knowing that I had come through a tough Pro12 game like that straight away.

I definitely think that game will stand to me because there is no amount of conditioning that can prepare you for a match like that so I am delighted to be fully fit again.

Aside from that, we were disappointed not to have been further ahead when we got on top in the second half. Then came the drama at the end and I thought we did show a lot of heart and determination to fight back and get those two tries.

Going over there we wanted to get the points and any time you don't achieve that you can't be too happy but we have a huge game coming up this weekend where we can channel that frustration.

At the weekend the interpretation around scrum time was quite varied but that is something you can't control; everyone has their own role to take care of and then hopefully it will take care of itself.

DECISIONS

But there was one particular drive near the end where we felt we were hard done by. We thought we could have pushed them back over their line but the decision went against us and you just have to live with those decisions sometimes.

From a personal point of view, I had 21 carries against Scarlets so I was happy with that. I thought I scrummaged well but there are always areas to improve on.

I wasn't the only one coming back from injury at the weekend and it was a huge boost to have CJ back fit for the same game.

He's a massive addition to the side, and having him there means that teams have to keep on guessing. They might go out to try and target a ball-carrier so having more than one is obviously great for a team.

It is never good to have players injured with the internationals away and at this time of the year we always target these four games so that we can put ourselves in the best possible position in the league for when the lads return from international camp.

One thing we have noticed is the amount of depth in our squad, and across all of the provinces you are seeing a lot of good players still available while the Six Nations is taking place.

In Munster, we have a lot of players coming through. Jack O'Donoghue has done brilliantly - this is a real window of opportunity for him while the other guys aren't around and he has grasped that.

Then you have Luke O'Dea coming back to fitness and it's great to see. I used to live with him and it is such a pity that a lot of his career so far has been blighted by injury.

I remember when he first made the breakthrough into the senior side and his try-scoring rate was up there with the best - hopefully now with game time he can get back there and fulfil all of that potential.

So things are coming together nicely but tomorrow everything will need to click if we are to avenge some disappointing defeats to Glasgow in recent history.

Most teams who play Glasgow expect the same thing: a hugely physical tussle and that is what you get.

They have a kicking game like all the other Pro12 sides but they don't use it as often; instead they look to offload first and foremost. They look to play from anywhere and you can't predict what they are going to do with ball in hand.

In defence we have a system that we stick to but they have threats all over the park and we have to really focus on our own game, put ourselves in the right position and hope the process works out for us.

The major strength for Glasgow is that they have poachers right across the park which is very rare in the Pro12.

It has been building in Glasgow for the last number of years, they are a team on the up and it's infectious. When you think of all of the internationals they have provided to Scotland and how that success has transferred over to the national set-up. We know the significance of the games at this stage of the year.

All we can do is focus on our own performances and keep pushing for qualification to the knockout stages, and we are definitely not looking past Glasgow this weekend.

The semi-final defeat to them last year still lingers in my memory. I want to get silverware at this club and not getting to the final last time was a major let-down for me.

No matter what people say, the Champions Cup is always the main focus at the start of the season and when we got knocked out of that it really made us hungrier for success in the Pro12.

If we can win tomorrow, it would go a long way towards retribution and I am sure it won't be the last time we face Glasgow this season.

Ireland play England on Sunday as well and I believe the national side have what it takes to beat England.

It's difficult to spot a weakness with Stuart Lancaster's men but everyone can agree that their physicality is a huge asset.

Ireland are defensively sound and tactics-wise they are the best around so if they can front up physically, the game is there for the taking.

I am disappointed not to be involved with the national set-up but I know a lot of the guys who are and I will be wishing them well - hopefully Ireland and Munster can do the double.

Irish Independent

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