Wednesday 13 November 2019

Penney will look to use Irish disappointment to Reds' advantage

Munster head coach Rob Penney
Munster head coach Rob Penney

Denis Leamy

The Six Nations and Brian O'Driscoll's retirement is undoubtedly dominating everything at the moment, but Munster's clash with Toulouse is just around the corner and will come right into view after this weekend.

A Heineken Cup quarter-final is always tricky. A large number of lads can be away in camp for weeks on end with Ireland on Six Nations duty and then have to quickly recharge and change focus.

The Ireland players will get next week off and try to catch their breath after the exertions of the Six Nations, but then the following week it will be Munster v Leinster in the Pro12 and a week later both go into Heineken Cup quarters.

We got caught a few years ago at the quarter-final stage by Llanelli. Back then Munster had a large number of players on Irish duty.

It can work two ways at the moment. There are only a handful of players involved with Ireland, so the bulk of the Munster squad have been able to continue working together as a group and, in fairness, have been producing some great results.

The other side of the coin, though, is the advantage of having players coming back from performing at Test level and go right into the fray.

Everyone is in the right frame of mind to up to their level of performance.

There were times in the past when around a dozen Munster players would be involved in the Six Nations.

One of the key things when we were goal-setting with Munster was the desire to get as many of our players as possible into a green jersey; I presume that has not changed.

You want as many players as possible performing at that level as it undoubtedly leads to an rise in standards.

Munster just have to deal with the fact that they don't have as many involved with Ireland as they might like to at the moment.

In any event, it can't be changed at this point so I'm sure Rob Penney will be emphasising how fresh Munster players will be heading into this next block of games.

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