| 17.7°C Dublin

Scarlets will be looking to beat us up on the pitch

Close

JJ Hanrahan is tackled by Tommy O'Donnell during the Munster training session at Bishopstown in Cork ahead of tomorrow's game against Scarlets

JJ Hanrahan is tackled by Tommy O'Donnell during the Munster training session at Bishopstown in Cork ahead of tomorrow's game against Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

JJ Hanrahan is tackled by Tommy O'Donnell during the Munster training session at Bishopstown in Cork ahead of tomorrow's game against Scarlets

A few weeks ago I highlighted how taxing I thought this block of four games was going to be, so the manner in which we've approached the first three of those clashes is very pleasing.

We are well aware that Munster have traditionally found it tough travelling to the Ospreys. They are a tough nut to crack over there, so to score three tries and not let them get a point at all was satisfying.

Sometimes you've just got to grind out a win and the fact that the lads did that is admirable.

For us, the Pro12 is all about the accumulation of points. It's always pleasing when you start to put a bit of space between yourself and the opposition, but I was more impressed with the way we applied pressure and got the job done in a difficult place.

The professional manner in which our lads prepare every week means we have a lot of confidence in their ability to gear themselves up for challenges like the one we face tomorrow against Scarlets.

Our strength and conditioning team interact with the group to ensure the boys are in prime shape and there is a good synergy now across all the departments to help the players to perform the way they can.

So despite having a six-day turnaround between our trips to Ospreys and Scarlets, there weren't any guys getting wrapped in cotton wool.

CHALLENGES

We are managing the group as well as we can. One of my challenges when I arrived in Munster was to try and grow the number of players that we have available every week.

In such a long season you need to have depth right across the field and we are getting to a point now where we are able to interchange quite seamlessly without having a detrimental effect on performance.

Rather than protecting guys for the week, we have brought out a relatively fresh group who didn't have too much rugby the last day in order for us to perform well for the next game.

It was interesting to see Scarlets coach Simon Easterby say publicly that his side are not intimidated by Munster. They'll be looking to beat us up on the pitch and on the scoreboard.

They are obviously confident. Scarlets' performance at Musgrave Park would indicate that they have some justification to say these things, so it will be interesting to see how we respond to that at their home track tomorrow.

We certainly left it late to take the win against them in Musgrave Park, Ronan O'Mahony's try getting us off the hook.

After such a positive trip to Wales last week, it was disappointing to see that Cathal Sheridan had broken his arm. It's never nice to see injuries in your group and for a young guy like Cathal, who is making great strides and has been very effective this year, it's a bit of a tragedy. It's really unfortunate for Cathal, but his setback opens the door for Gerry Hurley to come in.

He too is a very talented individual and we are excited about what he is going to provide in the position.

Despite losing Cathal, our numbers will be boosted by the imminent arrival of a new hooker, Quentin MacDonald. Quentin is due in at the end of this week, so he won't be travelling with us this time.

After a number of injuries in that position, things are beginning to improve.

Damien Varley is available again, we have Duncan Casey going great guns and Ger Slattery is still there too, so we are not in dire straits at the minute. But I'm looking forward to seeing how Quentin settles in.

As well as tomorrow's Pro12 game, we have managed to arrange an extra match for the 'A' team against Connacht Eagles at the UL Bowl next Friday (3.0), which is pleasing.

A number of guys will get a run there; some of them have had limited opportunity to get game time of late, so it's important for them to have a hit-out before their B&I Cup quarter-final with Leinster.

There will also be a number of guys that will need to put some time into their legs in preparation for the Treviso Pro12 game two weeks after that; it's the last game before we make our selections for the Leinster and Toulouse collision.

Finally, I'd like to offer a quick thank you to all the Munster supporters who have come out in great numbers so far this season, the boys really look forward to playing in front of the most passionate fans in world rugby. See you all at Thomond Park again soon.

Indo Sport