Sunday 22 September 2019

Johann isn't coming in to change things at the start, insists Holland

Munster's Billy Holland. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster's Billy Holland. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Veteran Billy Holland may have played all bar half an hour of Munster's 10 games this season but the 32-year-old knows he can't slow down as he sets out to impress new coach Johann van Graan.

Other than the closing quarter against Benetton Rugby and the final 10 minutes against Glasgow, Holland has been on the field for Munster throughout every other game this season.

And he is set to lead the Munster lineout again on Sunday as they make the trip to Italy to face Zebre, but he is confident that there will be no distractions for the players as they seek to impress the new man in charge.

The key coaching duties will fall to Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones this week as Van Graan soaks in as much of Munster's game-plan as he can and, according to the Cork native, the new coach will not be tearing up their current playbook.

"Johann isn't coming in to change anything at the start. Even this week, Felix and Fla are running things and Johann is just observing," said Holland.

"We know what we're trying to do, what we've been doing so far has been working even if we have slipped up a few times but I think we have progressed from last year, that we are a better team than last year and Johann is going to come in and look at what we are doing over the next month or so, tweak a few things.

Excuses "We sat down at the start of the year and decided that you could look at it as an opportunity, or have a load of excuses if things went wrong. We looked at it as the former and Fla and Felix were instrumental in it, showing that we could drain as much knowledge from Rassie and Jacques as you could in their remaining couple of months.

"And then you're getting a new coach in with a new point of view and you're going to get a lot of knowledge out of him as well.

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"If there was ever going to be any trouble, I think it would have been from the point when Rassie decided to go to when he left when guys were kinda throwing the toys out of the pram. There was absolutely none of that."

All going well, Holland will have a busy month or two as Munster plot their way though the next two rounds of the Guinness PRO14, into the Champions Cup and on to the Christmas inter-pro games.

After that all focus will switch to the Champions Cup, where he will lock horns with a former team-mate in the second-row.

"During the break I went over and visited Donnacha Ryan and a few other friends in different places so it was really enjoyable to get away and freshen up. He is due back in the next month or so."

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