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'If you win four games you win a trophy, that's fact' - Conway confident Munster are building towards success

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High spirits: Munster’s Andrew Conway says senior coach Stephen Larkham is challenging the squad to improve. Photo: INPHO

High spirits: Munster’s Andrew Conway says senior coach Stephen Larkham is challenging the squad to improve. Photo: INPHO

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

High spirits: Munster’s Andrew Conway says senior coach Stephen Larkham is challenging the squad to improve. Photo: INPHO

It's nine years since Munster last won silverware, and despite being just four games from glory again, winger Andrew Conway still feels they have a distance to travel before they can claim a fourth league title.

A win against either Leinster or Connacht will guarantee Johann van Graan's side a place in the league semi-finals, but after so many near misses in recent seasons, Conway refuses to get carried away.

"Obviously there is no point in beating around the bush, in that it is a small block (of fixtures). Max, you have four games. If you win four games you win a trophy, that's fact," the 29-year-old said.

"That is close, but we have been within two games of winning a trophy in the last few years. We have been in semi-finals, we have been in finals. So we are close, but we're not that close. There is a lot of work to do.

"It really is exciting and obviously we say that the whole time but this feels like something a bit different.

"Now there's plenty of work to do, and we're under no illusions the fact that there's going to be a bit more cohesiveness doesn't guarantee us anything. But there's been a good few weeks put in and there's been a good foundation set that I think that we can springboard with."

Conway is facing into this set of games on the back of his most successful season in the international shirt - he started all three of Ireland's Six Nations games on the back of a positive World Cup campaign.

He describes Munster's season to date as "average" and with all that moving within various camps from the World Cup to provincial duty and back to the Six Nations behind him, he feels there is a better understanding of what the Munster coaches want from him.

"(Recent months) probably highlighted that you were a bit ignorant the last year, in that you just think 'OK, we'll be out and then jump back in and we'll able to do this'.

"You're able to do it to a certain level and then you get found out by the Racings and the Sarries and the Leinsters. You get through some games, but Steve (Larkham), he's using his knowledge and pushing us and we're challenging him. Well, he's more challenging us than us challenging him!

"We're not going to be perfect straight away, don't get me wrong. It would be unrealistic to think that but the foundation is going to be strong and then we need to start building from that.

"Obviously we need to build straight into a Leinster, then Connacht, and then hopefully it will be knockout rugby straight away, but I am excited."

Lockdown

Considering his last game for Munster was on 19 January against Ospreys - the day they exited the Champions Cup - his eagerness to make the most of lockdown was understandable.

But after an intense start, he chose to let his body rest with next month's season finale in mind.

"At the start, we thought it was going to be four weeks and then it turned to eight weeks pretty quickly. We got a lot of gear from Munster, got a watt bike and weights and the likes.

"I smashed it for about three weeks. I left everything in the gym in my little back room and on the watt bike. Then after three weeks, I think it was around the time we were told it was going to be a bit longer, the motivation was gone and I had gone 'I'm after wrecking myself there'.

"I was in great condition and trained really hard, but the mental side of it was the tough part then for a couple of weeks.

"Mike Catt called me in around that time. He gave me some great advice. He said: 'listen, we don't know how long this is going to be. Train, do your bits, do your physical bits to make sure you maintain a level of fitness - but don't go crazy. Don't burn yourself out and be the champion of lockdown and come back in and be out of gas by the time you are actually looking to get back playing'.

"That was something I took on board. But it's hard. When you are so used to training hard consistently, it is quite tough to not do it."

  • Andrew Conway was speaking at the announcement of Pinergy's re-brand, which offers a chance for fans to give the Munster team a virtual team-talk ahead of the game against Leinster.

Irish Independent