Monday 23 April 2018

Time to stand up and be counted – Penney

JJ Hanrahan in action during the Munster training session at the University of Limerick this week
JJ Hanrahan in action during the Munster training session at the University of Limerick this week

Declan Rooney

Munster coach Rob Penney says his side is ready to get their Welsh double-header off to a winning start against Cardiff Blues.

Penney's side make the trip to the Arms Park tomorrow for their first game back in Pro12 action after three weeks off, and follow it up with another journey to Wales next Friday – a tricky trip to Newport to face the Dragons.

But with so many first-teamers absent through international duty and injury, Penney is expecting a big showing from his squad as they attempt to retain top spot in the standings.

"It could easily be a season-defining week. It's exciting for us. This group here, with the number of injures we have got and the group in the national camp, we have the equivalent of seven or eight big names out of the match," Penney said.

"This group have got a great opportunity to put pressure on selectors and ourselves to maintain their position and get a position in the Heineken Cup and kick on from there.

"It's always challenging playing away and playing Welsh teams away, given some of the things that have happened.

"It's a challenge we just have to rise to and are capable of rising to if we put our game face on," added Penney, whose side won last season's corresponding fixture 24-18.

And Penney said he thinks his squad could be boosted by the possible return of four players from the Irish camp ahead of him naming the team for Cardiff today. With a critical Heineken Cup double-header against Perpignan also to consider, he faces a juggling act in the coming weeks.

"It really just depends on what Joe Schmidt does, but we could have four available to us," he said. "Looking to next week, I doubt if the guys that play against New Zealand will be available five days later because we play on the Friday night.

"I don't think so, anyone who plays in the Test will not be available for Newport, (but they'll) be straight in for Perpignan, that's the nature of the game."

Irish Independent

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