Monday 24 June 2019

Wallace backing Munster's 'dark horses' in Europe

David Wallace is convinced his former province are “dark horses” for the Champions Cup title.
David Wallace is convinced his former province are “dark horses” for the Champions Cup title.
David Kelly

David Kelly

David Wallace says that it is time for Munster to unload their hurt locker in a bid to end their 11-year long European trophy drought.

And the two-time winner is convinced that his former province are "dark horses" for the Champions Cup title, after spending much of the past decade watching on enviously as their Irish rivals Leinster racked up four titles since Munster's last triumph in 2008.

"There have been a lot of learning curves for players and everyone and maybe in the last couple of years you could say it's fair that their level has been all about reaching semi-finals but I don't think so this year," says Wallace.

"This year they're going to have more ambition. The last couple of years were very disjointed for various reasons.

"There was a lot of upheaval in terms of coaching, there were good guys coming in and parachuting out.

"But it takes time, they seem to have really settled now and are firing on all cylinders. They can start to grow as a team rather than fighting fires left, right and centre. You would say this is a team who are not only dark horses, but maybe shady horses for the Champions Cup.

"Teams win because they are player-led, these guys are maturing into the position. They are hungry for it, they are not just happy to be playing in a team and doing well. We had that ten years ago when we were sick of other teams winning it.

"They want that success and that comes after a few years of hurt and defeat and being sick of it. They saw Leinster last year and now that is a big goal for them."

The fraught defeat in Castres might have revealed a soft side to Munster but, while Wallace concedes they were bullied in that December reverse, their response when presented with a fired-up Leinster side at Christmas was far more revealing to his eyes.

"Castres was tough, they got bullied," says Virgin Media Ireland's newest Six Nations pundit. "There were a few things before that game in terms of what referees had been telling them going into the game which may have put them on the back foot and maybe then it wasn't adjudicated properly.

"They learned a lot from that in terms of having the experience to deal with that sort of stuff on the field.

"They have matured now, they are a little more streetwise. I'm hoping to see a lot more of that.

"We saw it against Leinster, in a really heated game, on the back of what happened in Castres. But this time they didn't boil over and they kept their composure much more than Leinster did.

"Leinster were expecting a fight while Munster had the expectation of playing more rugby rather than preparing for a brawl. They kept an even keel."

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