Sunday 25 August 2019

Niall O'Donovan: Expect wounded Leicester to come out fighting

Simon Zebo celebrates with team-mates Jaco Taute, Ian Keatley and Keith Earls
Simon Zebo celebrates with team-mates Jaco Taute, Ian Keatley and Keith Earls

Niall O'Donovan

It was a very satisfying result beating Leicester Tigers like that last weekend, but it's really only half-time in this fixture. We have to go back and do it all again tomorrow.

And we are up against one of the teams with a great reputation in this competition. It's all to play for at Welford Road and I would expect Leicester to come back with a vengeance.

So it's going to be a difficult assignment, there is no doubt about that.

It is important to recognise that a lot of things went our way at Thomond Park, but crucially we got off to a good start. We took our penalties well when they presented themselves, and a bit of ill-discipline probably cost them, which gave us a vital foothold in the game.

When we got the try just before half-time it just took the pressure off further, at an early stage. But things will be different this week.

Confidence

We have won seven games in a row now, and that gives you confidence and gives the players confidence. There are a lot of young guys who just needed a break and this run of wins has helped them adapt for sure.

There haven't been wholesale changes, we're still working with the same group of guys, with one or two additions, but once you start putting a few wins back to back you can see the confidence building in the young guys and that's important for Munster Rugby, now and down the line.

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There are lots of reasons why Munster are performing so well at the moment, and the players are deservedly getting a lot of the plaudits. The numbers involved with Ireland during November is also a reflection of where the squad is at.

A lot of the credit also has to go to the coaches that are there and the work that Axel did before this.

The build-up over the last year has been massive.

Moving to the high performance centre has also been a huge influence on our training habits. Up until this year we trained in two separate centres, and trained together just twice a week.

This year for the first time the group are training on a regular basis together and that has to add to the feel-good factor.

This weekend we know Leicester are smarting. You know a result like a 38-0 defeat is going to hurt them, no different than it would hurt us here.

We would be gunning to get a bit of pride back the following week and that happens a lot in this competition.

Glasgow Warriors beat Racing 92 in France last weekend, and things had not being going too well for Glasgow before that. But every game is different and you are going to the home of one of the strongholds of European rugby.

Leicester Tigers are a club with a lot of pride so you expect a backlash.

Munster need to repeat exactly what they did the other day but improve on it too.

We must stick to what we are good at and bring the same physicality that we brought to the game last Saturday.

Leicester won't perform like that two weeks in a row and that means that we must evolve, but the fundamentals of last week's display must be there again.

This is our third game in the pool, but we have had two home games so far and now it's three away games in a row in this competition. We have done well, and got maximum points out of it which is great. But our next three games are away to Leicester, Glasgow and Racing. There is going to be nothing easy. We have put in a great foundation but we need to kick on from here now.

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