Friday 23 February 2018

Munster form should be reflected in tour call-ups, insists Holland

Holland:
Holland: "I think we are on the right track at the moment in Munster." Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster have not lost a game this season in which Billy Holland has been their starting captain.

It's the kind of stat that could easily be glossed over but in the last couple of years, the 31-year old has become one of the squad's main leaders.

With Donnacha Ryan departing for Racing 92 next season, Rassie Erasmus will be left with a significant void to fill, and while Jean Kleyn has shown glimpses of his undoubted potential, Holland is likely to be asked to step it up again.

Last November, the Cork native was rewarded for his consistent form with a first Ireland cap and having got a taste for the international stage, Holland is hungry for more.

In the coming fortnight, Joe Schmidt will confirm his squad that will travel to USA and Japan next month, and Holland believes that Munster's exploits this season should be reflected on the summer tour.

Dominated

"Leinster have dominated the Irish squad over the past couple of years because they have dominated the PRO12 and the European competition - they have been the best Irish province over the past couple of years and still are," Holland said.

"They will still have the majority of players on that tour, but I think we are on the right track at the moment in Munster.

"I said previously that a couple of years ago you are looking to get into the Irish set-up, but now I don't think like that any more.

"The way you play for Ireland is by playing well for your province - starting for your province, playing well with your province and winning with your province.

"Unless you are doing all those three things you are not going to be involved. It is as simple as that.

"I have started many games this season and it has gone well for me. We've won 19 out of 22 games in the PRO12 this year."

Holland faces plenty of competition from younger locks but if Schmidt realistically sees the Munster man playing a role in the next couple of years, he will be on the plane.

With Munster flying high, their Guinness PRO12 semi-final against the Ospreys will provide Holland with another chance to stake his claim.

"A lot of hard work went in over the last two years," he added.

"This isn't just nine or 10 months of hard work, it is a couple of years of hard work from all the coaches and players who have been here previously but last year we were losing games that were tight.

"That is because there is a bit more confidence in the group and winning is a habit in the same way with losing, you can get a snowball effect."

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