Wednesday 20 February 2019

It's in our own hands and we want to put in a big display and finish top

Player's Diary

From far left: Rory Scannell (c) celebrates after Joey Carbery (r) scored the second try against Gloucester. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
From far left: Rory Scannell (c) celebrates after Joey Carbery (r) scored the second try against Gloucester. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Rory Scannell

This game against Exeter Chiefs has been sold out now for a couple of weeks which is a bit bizarre, but it's the game that everyone has been looking forward to and there is so much resting on it.

The last time I remember such a build-up was to one of our games was the Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon at Thomond Park last March.

It was a massive occasion with a great atmosphere and it was a big win for us, after Andrew Conway scored that memorable try, but I would say this will be very close to that again. It's going to be some evening in Limerick.

And there is a good buzz around the place right now. The last few weeks have been good for everyone here at Munster Rugby, and it has all stemmed from that win over Leinster over the Christmas.

Once we got that win it was crucial that we backed it up, and we did away to Connacht in another massive inter-pro. Then last weekend it was another huge result over in Gloucester.

Momentum

The build-up to the Chiefs clash has been like last year’s quarter-final which featured a memorable Andrew Conway try. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
The build-up to the Chiefs clash has been like last year’s quarter-final which featured a memorable Andrew Conway try. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

We are in a good run of form and it's an important time of the year to be on the right side of things. A lot of this boils down to momentum and we have some behind us right now, we have lots of confidence and need to keep that going against Exeter.

The scoreline probably didn't reflect how tough the game in Kingsholm actually was. It might have finished 41-15 in our favour but it was tough for long periods and we showed some really commendable character in that game.

Gloucester came back at us with a couple of tries around half-time but we didn't lose our heads and pulled away towards the end.

A big thing for us as a group was that we defended well for the majority of the game. Our attack is getting better every week, and we played some good rugby over there. It's a pretty pleasing performance overall especially against a top-quality Premiership outfit.

It was a quick turnaround from the game in the Sportsground the week previous, so that gives things their own dynamic. But we weren't tired at all and the weather was good over in Kingsholm, it lent itself to some positive rugby.

And there was a great Munster support over there as always. It was good to repay them with a performance like that, and then be able to celebrate it with the family was great. A lot of the lads had their family and friends over, my parents were over too, so we were delighted.

It's always big when you have people close to you travelling to those European games. You get a chance to chat to them afterwards and it brings you straight back down to earth after the result. It was a nice occasion for everyone involved in Munster Rugby.

We flew back after the game on Friday night and got into Shannon at around 2.30am. It was a late one but it was good to get back and wake up in my own bed - nothing beats that, especially after a big away win the night before.

There was a lot of recovery then during the two-day weekend. I did a lot of active recovery on the bike and then it was into the pool after that. Attention quickly turned to the game this Saturday, although I did get a chance to sit back and relax while I watched all of the other teams battle it out. I didn't do a whole lot else last weekend.

Playing on a Friday, getting the job done and getting the five points in the bag early, doing all you can control is huge mentally. Then you can sit back and see what the other teams are doing.

You get a better idea of where you are at going into Round 6. We're fifth overall in the rankings at the moment. Right now we would miss out on a home quarter-final but we are top of Pool 2 and that's the way we are looking at it. We want to win and concentrate on what we can do rather than worrying about any external factors with the other pools.

It's nice to have our own destiny in our hands in terms of finishing ahead of Exeter. Saying all that we are not sure if would be home or away even with a win. All we can do is control the performance against Exeter tomorrow night. We just have to do our best.

Tough

They are probably in a position now where they didn't think they would be after the first two rounds. Exeter had a draw and two losses starting out but now they have a chance to win and maybe even top the group. We know well what's waiting for us - it's going to be very tough.

You would definitely prefer some other team to be playing against in a Round 6 pool decider. Exeter and Saracens have been the top two in England for the last number of years and playing against those teams it generally means you are in for one hell of a battle.

Exeter have some unbelievable players throughout their squad, as well with the likes of Jack Nowell coming back in now, Henry Slade too, they have a very dangerous backline with a massive forward pack also.

They are actually a very similar side to ourselves. Exeter are playing some fantastic attacking rugby and they are always great defensively too. They will be difficult to break down; it might take 70 or 75 minutes to do that but we know what's in store.

We are really looking forward to the challenge that awaits and the inevitable rapturous occasion our fans will put on for us. We want to pay them back with another memorable Saturday evening in Europe.

Irish Independent

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