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Great to see O'Callaghan reach major milestone


Donncha O'Callaghan will become Munster's most-capped player against Zebre tomorrow

Donncha O'Callaghan will become Munster's most-capped player against Zebre tomorrow

Donncha O'Callaghan will become Munster's most-capped player against Zebre tomorrow

You would have to be really proud of the way the players went about their business on Saturday against Cardiff and came away with a convincing bonus-point win.

For them to keep their composure when the scoreboard was not reflecting their dominance was outstanding and once they kept faith in our game plan and kept doing the basics well, it was only a matter of time before they got their reward. We'll need more of the same tomorrow against Zebre.

It was a strange match. There was a point before the break when I looked at the scoreboard and couldn't really believe it was so close. Our fundamentals were pretty strong, but we just didn't capitalise on our good possession and field position.

The breaking point was the penalty try around the 60-minute mark and we were able to kick on from there. It was the intensity we had shown in the first 60 minutes that allowed us to cut loose in the last 20.

Yet, despite cutting loose and taking a few more risks, our basics remained solid: our scrum was good and our line-out was good, giving us the ability to launch plays off a solid set-piece platform.

It was one of those days that passes stuck and players started to run really positive support lines. Our handling was excellent and the continuity was as good as we have seen all season.

Rugby is a game of momentum and in the last 20 minutes, it was nearly impossible to stop us. If we maintain our accuracy and precision, we are a very difficult team to defend against.


Last week I picked out a few players who we were looking to impress against Cardiff and we weren't disappointed. It was especially pleasing to see Gerhard van den Heever doing well.

He has settled into Munster life pretty quickly, and it was good to see that those two B&I Cup games stood to him. He was very impressive at the weekend, very quick and powerful.

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Denis Hurley also did very well, considering it was his first game at that level in the No 12 shirt. He did well both sides of the ball, but from his point of view it's a process that will take time. JJ Hanrahan had an incredible kicking performance landing 10 out of 10 kicks at goal.

Playing at full-back, Simon Zebo was excellent again. Realistically he can play anywhere in the back three, he played with a lot of freedom and created a buzz every time he touched the ball. Those guys impressed me, but over this four-week period we will have a certain amount of changes to the squad – it's almost impossible to play four games back to back and retain those high standards with the same team.

Thankfully we have so many guys at the moment playing really well. We are trying to strike that balance between competition and continuity in the side from one week to the next.

If guys keep playing as well as they are, those decisions are going to be all the harder for us.

But that's what you want. There will be changes this week, but it's important that we take the high standards set in the Cardiff game into the Zebre clash if we are to get a repeat result.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the incredible milestone Donncha O'Callaghan will reach this weekend. To become the most-capped Munster player of all time is fitting for one of the most passionate and motivated players I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

His attitude and work ethic is infectious and he's such a complete pro in everything he does, a fantastic role model for the squad. Who would bet against him getting another 50-plus caps?

Changing focus from on the field to off it, we were all surprised to hear that Rob Penney and Simon Mannix will be leaving Munster at the end of the campaign. However, it is essential we retain our focus on our goals for the season.

Rob has reiterated that we must not become distracted by any external influences. Everyone is committed to the process of winning silverware this season and hopefully that will continue with a win against Zebre in Cork tomorrow night.

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