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Ryan hoping to play part as Reds eye clean sweep

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Donnacha Ryan keeps a close eye on the ball during the Munster training session in Cork yesterday

Donnacha Ryan keeps a close eye on the ball during the Munster training session in Cork yesterday

SPORTSFILE

Donnacha Ryan keeps a close eye on the ball during the Munster training session in Cork yesterday

Munster lock Donnacha Ryan may be out of the loop at the moment as he continues his way back from injury, but he is hopeful he can play his part tomorrow as the Reds go for a first ever clean sweep over the four Welsh outfits.

No team has ever defeated all four Welsh regions, home and away, since the league began but the 25-11 win in Liberty Stadium last Sunday has given Munster the opportunity to do so tomorrow.

Of course, getting the four points will be all that matters to Ryan and his colleagues as they bid to hold on to top spot in the Pro12.

The last time Munster defeated all the Welsh sides they faced, they went on to win the Celtic League for the first time.

But that was back in 2002 when there were less matches, with Munster defeating Neath in the final having earlier accounted for Welsh opposition in the form of Ebbw Vale, Swansea, Neath and Caerphilly.

It took a late Ronan O'Mahony try to snatch a 16-10 win over Scarlets in Musgrave Park in December, and having been tested by Ospreys last weekend in Swansea, Ryan expects a similar challenge a few miles up the coast tomorrow in Swansea.

"They're quite similar teams. They do play the Welsh type pattern as well and they've a very, very strong pack. Their scrum is getting stronger from previous years. They move the ball extremely well and they're a very tough side to play against at the breakdown so physically, I find personally, they're very tough up front.

"We just have to make sure that we are in the right frame of mind when we are going out against them and that we expect a tough battle against them."

The six-day turnaround since the win in Swansea has added its own challenges, but Ryan reckons they have dealt with it well. "You're trying to recover quickly as possible. You're back training on Wednesday and Thursday as well and you're flying over on Friday so it's all go really," he said.

"It's important that guys are learning to recover properly and eating proper food and do a quick turnaround and obviously it's going to take a big effort this weekend and hopefully they'll realise that there is a break next week and put it in really this weekend."

Ryan, who has just recovered from a knee injury having been out prior to that with a back problem, said he is available if Ireland need him.

But he says the competition in the Munster side has made him focus on the challenges closer to home, and he believes that the battle for places has increased the quality.

"It raises standards across the boards and that is what we want. We didn't really figure too well in the Rabo last season. We finished sixth at the end of the league and it was a reflection of where our squad was at. This year it is a lot stronger and guys are capable of coming in and replacing guys who do get injured or get called up for Irish selection, which is what we all are trying to achieve as well. It's great to have that level of competition in training."

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