Tuesday 17 July 2018

Player diary - Denis Hurley: Now is the time to fight our way out of a tricky situation with a win

Munster’s Francis Saili (right) and Conor Murray during training in UL Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile
Munster’s Francis Saili (right) and Conor Murray during training in UL Photo: Seb Daly / Sportsfile

Denis Hurley

It has come to a point where we've been squeezed into a tight corner and we want to come out fighting against Edinburgh tonight in Cork.

They are one place ahead of us and are looking for a Champions Cup spot as well. That doesn't make it any easier for us. With Scarlets next up, it is a similar situation. At the end of the day, they are also looking for the Champions Cup qualification. It's our own fault for getting ourselves into this situation but we aim to get out.

Losing to Connacht, it was disappointing but you have to look at where they are in the table. They're joint-top for a reason. Playing away from home, we did start well, but losing in that manner was disappointing.

But that wasn't the game that put us in the position that we are in the table, earlier defeats this season have cost us. Losing to Connacht was just the culmination of the poor losses we had throughout the season.

But we're back to Cork now, and playing there has always been good down the years. It freshens everything up a bit, and guys really enjoy playing in Irish Independent Park. We have had some cracking matches there. And we know this one won't be easy.


Looking at Edinburgh, they are playing much better rugby in the second half of the season and they won a lot of big games recently. It makes this one a real pressure game for us. But it's important that we leave the pressure on the side of the pitch and just concentrate on how well we play.

Because we know we can. Some of the tries we scored recently - especially Simon Zebo's try against Connacht - there was just that bit of a spark back. We need to draw that out again, and try and get on the scoreboard early tonight.

Being low on confidence and self-esteem, it makes it difficult to reach those heights. When things have you backed up against the wall, no matter how hard a team fights sometimes things don't work as well as you have liked for a full 80 minutes.

It's difficult when you have prepared well all week, and you really want to get that across in the performance on the field, turning everything you have done in the build-up into a winning result.

Contrasting now to last season, we were coming into the last few games fighting for second and third spot and we weren't far away from first. This is just a scenario that we haven't been used to.

Being part of the community, people here are really involved in what Munster are doing and it makes it that bit more pressurised to try and eke a performance out for the full 80 and win games. When it doesn't happen it makes it a lot harder to drag yourself into training, review games and get set again for another big one.

For the game against Edinburgh, the week break might bring a bit of freshness, and hopefully that will release the valve a bit with the guys. Everyone is really excited for this game.

As regards to our own aspirations, goals we would have set last summer, we wouldn't have thought we would have found ourselves in this position. At this moment in time, two wins, and you get the last Champions Cup spot. That would be a massive achievement right now.

We need to accept that and embrace it now; it was like a monkey on our back in recent games and finally we can put it to bed. These two matches are a chance to put some bit of a gloss on the season.

It's really important for the club and for the whole fan-base that we are playing in the Champions Cup. So that would give us some return after a difficult 2015-'16.

But for now we look towards Edinburgh, they have been quite a physical team over the years, they have targeted our breakdown every time we have played them.

And they have started to move the ball around more, which has been a huge addition for them.

If they can get space they will breach the gain-line and break tackles unless a team is very disciplined against them.

That's the difference of making 30 metres up the field, and a solid defence stopping it, which in turn forces them to kick the ball back to us.

That battle will continue throughout the game and if we can stop them then it will go a long way towards winning the game.

For this one, the concentration is going to be on how we perform, if we turn up with the aggression that we are ready to get stuck into them, the result will take care of itself.

If we look after our own ball we are at least giving ourselves a platform to play off.

The set-piece, scrum and lineout are always big areas for us, and what we do off that. If we get a bit of platform to play with, it gives opportunities to the outside backs to get on the ball.

Our back-rows are very good on the ball as well, and if they get go-forward ball they can claw us into the game from the beginning. If we can put Edinburgh under pressure we have to build on it for the full 80 minutes.

It's going to be about getting ourselves on the scoreboard early, trying to get ourselves in front and bringing a bit of confidence with that.

It's when supporters come out and support you when things are really tight, they are the days that they make the difference. That's when we get the biggest boost.

It's great when there is a big and vocal crowd, especially when it's a home game in Irish Independent Park.

Irish Independent

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