We must use Leinster victory as launchpad for European success
Well that was a great way to start off what you could call the most important month of our season! Everything about Saturday was encouraging: the time the win came – ahead of the Heineken Cup season – was a real boost, but any win over Leinster gives you a huge injection of confidence.
We had our review meeting in Charleville on Monday and we spoke about how Leinster always seem to use a win in a derby game before the Heineken Cup as a launchpad for their season. We fully intend on doing that this year.
It's up to us to really push on now and face into this European campaign with a pep in our step. There is a real buzz in the camp this week after picking up that win and we have to build on it.
But still, looking back at the video, there were a good few chances that we could have taken more from. Despite the win, we still have plenty to work on for this week and we won't lose the run of ourselves.
The Heineken Cup always brings a bit of an added buzz of anticipation to the squad, but last weekend seems to have upped that more than usual.
Everyone would already have watched the game back on their own, but Rob, Cossie and Simon pointed to particular areas that we did well and to things we could have done a little better. The work started immediately.
Our scrum has been pretty powerful so far this season – we have really carried the good work from last year into this campaign. Again we have to be happy with our line-out and our maul as well. This is what Munster rugby has always been based on.
We knew we were in for a real battle against Leinster and we targeted the scrum to try and get the upper hand. Coming up against a full Irish international front-row of Cian Healy, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross is a great challenge for any front three so it was particularly pleasing to come out on top in that area.
Towards the end of the first half we really began to dominate in that area and we carried it right through to the final whistle. We definitely take great confidence from that performance going into Edinburgh this week.
It is easy to get out of bed on weeks like this, though. Everyone is extra keen to be involved for these games and we are all intent on getting our names in the hat for the first week.
We had a couple of squad sessions this week and a team meeting and the atmosphere was great around the place. Everybody is excited about the game and there's a smile on everybody's face.
Even for the lads that have plenty of Heineken Cup caps, the old campaigners, there is always a bit of a novelty factor about facing into Europe. We think we are in pretty good shape, our game has evolved quite a bit since last year and we're expecting big things from ourselves.
I don't think there is any pressure there, but there is definitely an expectation from within and a responsibility on the players to deliver.
Looking across all of the big leagues in Europe, you'd have to say the usual suspects are going to challenge in this year's competition again.
Saracens, who we faced last year, look in great shape. They are going very well and seem to be blowing everybody away.
Castres seem to have lost some of last year's good form, but still, the Heineken Cup is a strange competition in that your league form can be quickly transformed if you pick up a win or two in Europe.
We would be foolish to underestimate the likes of Clermont or Toulon just because they've lost one or two league games this season. Form seems to go out the window, so don't be surprised to see the big teams back to winning ways again.
Edinburgh have had a rough couple of weeks in the Pro12 and they'll be coming for blood this weekend when we arrive in Murrayfield. The Heineken Cup will be like a breath of fresh air to those players and a good result for them could really kick-start their season.
We saw in Musgrave Park that they play a very expansive brand of rugby. They are well able to throw the ball about and they use clever kick options. You could say they don't play a whole lot different to us.
At this stage, you cannot look at a bonus point. If we get away from Edinburgh with a win we'd be happy. Especially in an away game, it's vital to get off to a winning start.
Looking back at our Pro12 meeting earlier this season, they were missing a few guys like Tim Visser and a few of the front-rows. It will be interesting to see what the team is like now.
Hopefully we will get off to a winning start and with Gloucester coming to Thomond Park next week, the win is all the more important. Gloucester are in good shape too. We played them in a pre-season friendly and they really put it up to us. After that we have Perpignan back to back, so it's going to be a pretty tight group.
But we seem to be ready for the challenge. We've had a good week with a squad session in UL on Tuesday and another on Thursday in Cork IT.
Bring it on!