Friday 20 September 2019

Return of key backs leaves Munster coach feeling upbeat

Van Graan: “The fact that all those internationals came back, the academy guys came in and the regulars could glue back in with literally one training session, it shows that system-wise we are aligned.” Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Van Graan: “The fact that all those internationals came back, the academy guys came in and the regulars could glue back in with literally one training session, it shows that system-wise we are aligned.” Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Barry Murphy and John Fallon

Munster head coach Johann van Graan says the southern province have a more lethal edge with their internationals back in a potent backline.

Munster secured a 44-14 victory over Edinburgh at Irish Independent Park on Friday, and all eight tries came from the backs in a scintillating performance.

The two-time European champions are at home to Castres in the first of their back-to-back Champions Cup games next Sunday and this was the ideal preparation.

Andrew Conway has emerged as a potential injury worry but he scored two tries to make it five in six days. Fellow returning Ireland winger Keith Earls notched a hat-trick while centre Chris Farrell scored twice.

"It was pretty nice for our outside backs to score that many tries and I thought system-wise it shows that there's growth in our team," said van Graan. "The fact that all those internationals came back, the academy guys came in and the regulars could glue back in with literally one training session, it shows that system-wise we are aligned."

Munster are currently second in Conference A of the PRO14 but now all of their focus switches to Europe before the inter-provincial games over the festive period.

Rhythm

"We said at the start of this block that it was important that we get a few points out of these first two games (Zebre and Edinburgh) and get a bit of rhythm going," said van Graan. "That's why we picked a very strong side against Edinburgh, to make sure that we've got a bit of rhythm.

"On a positive note, we've got a big turnaround so any knocks and bruises that we have, hopefully when we reconvene on Monday and start our big training on Tuesday because we play on Sunday, they will have been eliminated."

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Castres' inspirational captain Rodrigo Capo Ortega is doubtful for their Champions Cup trip to Thomond Park next Sunday.

The former Uruguayan lock limped off with a leg injury during Castres' shockingly poor display at home to relegation-threatened Agen, a 16-13 loss.

Castres were always chasing a poor game against Agen and sports director Christophe Urios has called for a response against Munster.

He said: "It's not good enough, we need to do better, we need to execute the basic skills. Agen showed good commitment but that's the least we can expect in the next few weeks.

"We have two games against Munster now to decide a lot but we will need a big improvement."

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