Wednesday 21 March 2018

Our boys know we can do better than last season

Rob Penney

After all the hard work during the summer it will be great to get the competitive campaign up and running. We are all looking forward to it.

Our pre-season campaign has gone very well, not just in the games, which went to plan, but all the other preparation.

All we are looking forward to now is going out and playing some games. There were a lot of tries scored in the warm-up games and that's always a good sign.

It always cranks up the boys' confidence but now it is a matter of taking that into the league.

We know we will always have injuries and it is unfortunate that we will have to start the season without BJ Botha and Andrew Conway. Hopefully we will have them back on the park very soon.

But squad selection is a nightmare at the moment – and that's a great problem to have. So many of the guys have put their hands up for selection and that's what we are really looking for.

I said it during the week that what generally happens is that, say, 60pc put their hands up and 40pc don't quite function for some reason.

But the guys have been amazing over the past few weeks and selection over the next few weeks is going to be difficult, making sure everyone gets a chance.

It is extra difficult because we need to name the Heineken Cup group in a couple of weeks and that's not going to be easy because they have all done such a god job in those pre-season games.

But that's a great position to be in and hopefully we can exploit that over the next few weeks.


It's a demanding schedule and we will need to have plenty of options available as we go through the season.

We are more than familiar with Edinburgh and we are going to get to know each other a lot more this season given that they are in the same pool as us in the Heineken Cup.

I would like to wish their new coach Alan Solomons all the best for the season – although we will be doing our best to make it as difficult as possible!

We did a job on them first up last year on their home turf and I have no doubt they will be looking to do that to us tomorrow.

You can build up good momentum from a positive start and that is what makes this opening game so important for both groups. It is a long season but you want to start as you mean to go on.

Our boys know we can do much better than last season. We can do nothing about that campaign now but we can use it as motivation to shape this year's.

And I'm quite confident that will happen. I think this is a tremendous group. You need to get the breaks, of course you do, but you have to make your own luck as well.

We have a tremendous group of supporters as well and I'm sure they will, as usual, turn out in force in Musgrave Park tomorrow evening.

It is up to the boys to deliver a performance and a result and I think they will do that to get the campaign up and running.

After that it will be off to Italy for the games against Treviso and Zebre so we would like to be heading there on the back of a good start to the campaign and then really build on it out there, especially as we will be there for the week.

But first things first and all that matters at this stage is getting a result tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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