Monday 23 October 2017

Pro12 play-offs our next aim

Varley insists Reds under no illusion about need to prove worth with big guns on international duty

Damien Varley goes through his paces during the Munster training session at the University of Limerick this week
Damien Varley goes through his paces during the Munster training session at the University of Limerick this week

John Fallon

Munster hooker Damien Varley readily admits that he would, of course, prefer to be in Carton House this week with the Irish squad rather than preparing for the Pro12 clash against Edinburgh.

But the 29-year old Limerick man said that everybody who has been left at home is under no illusion about the responsibility they have, which is to ensure that they chalk up the victories while the internationals are away.

Both of Varley's two Irish caps came off the bench and for most of this season he has been battling Mike Sherry for the No 2 shirt in Munster.

"You have to walk before you can run," Varley said. "Myself and Mick have been in competition for the jersey, but you have to have that competition.

"And, of course, everybody who plays professional rugby wants to play at international level but we know the task and responsibility we have during these weeks," the former St Munchin's man said.

The 6-17 loss at Musgrave Park to Cardiff Blues in their last league outing in early January has left Munster in sixth place, but they are only two points off the play-off.

"Other sides are without their senior internationals at this time as well but it is the same number of league points that are on offer for each game." Varley added.

"These games present a big opportunity for a lot of players who might not always be in the matchday 22 and players can make a big impression at this time.

"I have not played as much as I would have liked this season -- I was injured for a time -- but I am really looking forward to these games," he said.

Tomorrow night's clash at Musgrave Park will be the fourth time Munster have played Edinburgh this season but Varley said there was no danger of complacency, even though they have won the other three games.

"We know Edinburgh will be formidable and that they will bring a big challenge, we know that from the earlier games.

"But I think it will be a cracker of a match. You will have guys on both sides who are getting a chance and they will be going all out to make an impression. That should ensure a great contest.

"We know these are the games we have to win. We have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-final and that's great but we now need to book a place in the Pro12 knockout stages and we need to make sure we get those wins over the next few weeks while the senior internationals are away," added Varley, who will make his 88th appearance tomorrow night for Munster.

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