Thursday 18 January 2018

We're tuned up to keep good vibes going – Ryan

John Fallon

It's no coincidence that in each of the three seasons when Munster lifted the Celtic League title, they started the campaigns with a string of victories.

And while nobody in the Munster camp is looking beyond this evening's tricky clash in Treviso, two bonus-point victories in the opening two games have created a lot of expectation.

In 2002-03, when Munster won the league title for the first time, they opened with four straight wins, a feat they repeated three years ago when they also captured the crown.

And their best ever start to the league – five straight wins – came in the 2008-09 season when they went all the way.

This season, Munster top the Pro12 table after clocking up wins over Edinburgh and Zebre. The task facing them at Stadio di Monigo this evening against Benetton Treviso is not being underestimated, not least as the Italians won the corresponding fixture last February 34-10.

However, Munster go into this clash with the benefit of a week's training camp in Italy under their belt and Ireland second-row Donnacha Ryan believes that will help them build on a very promising start to the season.

Ryan, one of 11 Munster players named in Joe Schmidt's Irish training squad this week, said that the camp in Italy was a big boost as they bid to maintain their excellent start.

"It's great. A couple of years ago we went to America and it's a great way to bond. You get to know guys an awful lot better when you're away," said the 29-year-old, who made his 115th appearance for Munster in the 43-21 win over Zebre in Parma on Friday night.

Ryan said that Munster were now more familiar with the coaching style of Rob Penney and that confidence is high in the camp.

"If you were to compare it to this time last year, we got a drumming against London Irish and guys didn't know what they were supposed to do.

"Having had a year with the new coaching set-up and new approach to the game, guys are a lot more comfortable in their responsibilities. They are able to make the right decisions at the right times and that's the challenge in giving guys exposure."

Munster will be back on home soil next week when they entertain Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park tomorrow week, although they have been dealt a blow by the absence of Tommy O'Donnell, who has been ruled out for at least three months due to a knee injury sustained in last week's victory over Zebre.

Irish Independent

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