Friday 6 December 2019

Not much time to be sorting out mistakes, we need wins

Player Diary - Conor Murray

Conor Murray is looking forward to playing his first match of the season
Conor Murray is looking forward to playing his first match of the season

Conor Murray

From the sidelines it seems like we've already had half the season go by, so for me to get my first taste of the action tonight, it'll be a real lift.

Watching on as everyone else impresses and empties the tank for 80 minutes is really difficult, but at least I'll get the chance to put my own hand up tonight against Zebre at Thomond.

I didn't make the trip to Italy for the Treviso game as I was finishing off my pre-season work, but from speaking to all the lads since they all got back, it seems to have been a good win for us.

Until we reviewed the game all I saw were the highlights on TG4, but I was keeping up to date with the game via the official Munster account on Twitter. Fair play to Fiona Murphy, our media officer, she always keeps the information and tweets flying on a regular basis so it was pretty easy to keep up to date with how the boys were doing.

And once we went over the game in the team review there were plenty of things to be happy about from the trip to Italy, but also a good few aspects that we need to scrub up on.


But after the disappointment of Edinburgh we are all delighted to get the win under our belts and we are all keen to kick on from that against Zebre this week.

I might not have been playing but it still turned into a busy couple of days for me. As well as putting the finishing touches on my preparations for the season, I also went over to London to attend the club's inaugural patrons' dinner on Thursday. This is something that Dougie Howlett has come up with in an effort to recruit people to become involved with Munster Rugby and invest in its future growth and development.

There were 250 guests at the event, which was amazing, while a few of the other lads not involved in Italy, like Peter O'Mahony, Damien Varley and Donnacha Ryan, joined Jerry Flannery and Dougie for the night. Donal Lenihan hosted a Q&A session with some of us, which was a good laugh, while Varls needed little or no convincing to blast out a song. . . again.

The highlight of the night for me was the chance to meet New Zealand legend Zinzan Brooke, who is a great guy, while the big winner of the first patron's award was Richard Harris, whose son collected it on his behalf.

I was genuinely taken aback by how many people there are living outside of Ireland who support or have a grá for Munster. It was great to meet with so many of the Irish community over in London who made the effort to come along and support the event. That's why we were there I suppose, to see how many people follow and support us from afar. So just to be able to chat with everyone was great.

With the win from last week in the bag, there was a real buzz in training this week, and in our team run-out at UL on Monday there was a good bite to the session too as lads tried to respond to the increased competition for places.

I'm sure this week's sessions will have brought me up a level or two, because I definitely felt the effects of them afterwards anyway.

But the pressure is on to perform too. It can be tough to immediately find your form in your first game back, but like everyone else, it's vital that I perform from the first whistle. There is no space for lads not being ready to play.

I'll have to find my feet pretty quickly and get rid of all the cobwebs from the outset in tonight's game.

Since the loss to Edinburgh there has been a real focus on how we use the ball in training and it seems like that was improved on in Treviso too. It is one of the basic skills that we need to master and at times when we got into Edinburgh's scoring area we just dropped the ball or tried to give a 50/50 pass instead of holding on to it and recycling.

That's something we want to improve on again tonight. If we give ourselves a good platform to work from hopefully we can take advantage.

We've all had a good look at Zebre's game against Ulster last weekend and although they were well beaten, it appeared as if Ulster had to play well to get their win. In the end Ulster won with a bonus point, but that only came after they got a few shocks from Zebre.

The usual thing that we hear is that the Italian teams struggle when they leave their home field behind them, so the fact that they have stayed over in Ireland this week on a camp means they will be very well prepared.

We know from our own experience that the chance to work and live in each other's pockets for a week on camp adds a lot to your game and the time they'll have saved in travelling over and back is huge. We really have to be on our toes and ready for a battle from the start because they will be.

But if we have any aspirations this year, we need to be beating most teams at home, not just Zebre. That is a minimum requirement. Every week we want to get better and tighten up certain areas that might have let us down the previous week.

And with Ospreys, Leinster and Scarlets to go before we face into the European Champions Cup we have to start that process immediately. There is not too much time to be making mistakes and trying to fix them now, we have to starting chalking up the wins.

So at this stage I am just champing at the bit to get going. I've had enough of preparations, I want to get some game time and good results to my name.

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