Munster will be very much under pressure but that is not always a bad thing for this side. That is often when they thrive and I am predicting a big win to give them momentum going into an important couple of months.
They have Perpignan home and away next and have the return tie against Gloucester [at Kingsholm] before they get a chance to right the wrongs of the Edinburgh defeat. Having to travel to France and England and win makes for a very difficult campaign.
The Edinburgh game was deemed to be the easier of the three but the only consolation Munster can take is that the loss came early in their campaign and they now know what they have to do. They are now in cup rugby territory and that is when Munster play their best.
They did not play cup rugby against Edinburgh and were guilty of trying to force the play. They did not play the percentages and it led to Tim Visser’s try, which turned the game on its head.
Losing Simon Zebo for the next 10 weeks is a huge loss. He brings something different to every team he plays for and has an uncanny ability to get out of tackles. It is very hard to predict what he is going to do. Saying that, I am happy to see Johne Murphy get his chance on the left wing. He has been very underrated by the new management in the last couple of years and has got very little game time. I expect him to make the most of his chance but it would have been good to see either Ronan O’Mahony or Andrew Conway, who is in the Munster A squad this weekend, on the bench.
Donncha O’Callaghan has been recalled to the second row and brings with him a massive work-rate. He throws his body on the ball and does a lot of hard, unseen work to the benefit of his teammates. He frees up the other guys to carry and is the oil in the Munster engine room.
I am surprised that James Coughlan has been demoted to the bench but that’s the way it is and, with O’Callaghan in the second row, you have to fit Donnacha Ryan in somewhere. Coughlan has been one of the more consistent ball carriers for Munster in recent years but he did not have much of an impact, in that regard, last weekend.
Niall Ronan is good at openside flanker and links up the play well. He used to play centre for Leinster so has that all-round field of skills. The ball-carrying is key this week and Peter O’Mahony will be called upon to do an awful lot of that. CJ Stander is there to deputise across the back row but I’m surprised he is not starting.
The Gloucester dangerman is certainly going to be Ben Morgan, who is a great ball-carrier with deceptive speed. I would be wary of him and Freddie Burns, who will be eager to get off the bench after missing out last weekend [against Perpignan].
The quotes coming out of the Gloucester camp have encouraged me. They are talking about coming to Thomond Park and playing expansive rugby. If you are a Munster player, you want to hear that. Gloucester may be in for a serious shock to the system.”
Playing four-try rugby for five points will cause you to come-a-cropper. The priority for Munster is to get the win and worry about bonus points only after securing the victory.Also Read