Wednesday, November 17, 2010

‘It will be difficult to get guys back down to earth’

MUNSTER coach Tony McGahan admits it will be difficult for the players to come back down to earth from the high of their heroic display against Australia in time for this weekend’s big top-of-the-table Magners League clash with the Scarlets.

Munster face a short five-day turnaround between Tuesday night’s dramatic defeat of the Wallabies at Thomond Park and Sunday’s crunch tie against the second-placed Scarlets at Musgrave Park (5.35pm).
“It will be difficult to get guys back down to earth. There is no doubt about that,” Tony McGahan agreed.
“That is the beauty of rugby. You get a performance and a night like we had and then turn back around fro another game on Sunday, looking for four points against a Scarlets side which has been in great form.
“How the group and everyone manages that, the ability to park the win over Australia, turn up for training on Thursday afternoon, apply themselves and get the four points on Sunday is what our focus will turn to.”
Tony McGahan’s men currently enjoy a four-point lead over the Scarlets at the top of the table.
Munster have won all nine of their most recent meetings with the Welsh side. The Scarlets last win over the Irish province came in March 2007 when the teams met in the quarter-final of the Heineken Cup. Sunday’s game will be televised live on TG4.
The Munster management team is hoping that team captain Paul O’Connell may return to action in a Magners League game prior to the home Heineken Cup tie with the Ospreys on Sunday, December 12.
Munster face an away tie with the Dragons in the Magners league on Friday, November 26 and a home fixture with the Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park on Saturday, December 4.
Tony McGahan said: “We would like to introduce Paul O’Connell before the Heineken Cup.
“If the opportunity comes to play him before the Ospreys game we will certainly look at it and take it.
“He just completed his first full week of training with the squad last week. This is week two and it is a limited training week with the game with Australia.”
McGahan revealed that injured scrum-half Tomas O’Leary could be back playing in two weeks.
However, Jerry Flannery’s likely return date to competitive action remains unclear.
“Jerry (Flannery) is booked in for more tests in the next few weeks. We will have to wait and see.
“We are all holding out hope as much as he is to make sure he gets a clear shot at it and gets back to play,” Tony McGahan explained.
“He had five games with Munster last season and 15 minutes this season. It has been a barren spell for him from our point of view. We share his disappointment and frustration with what he is going through.
“We really want to get our best players on the field.
“If you want to be at the back end of tournaments, there to get trophies, you certainly need your best players playing. We certainly recognise that and Jerry (Flannery) is one of those for us.”
McGahan said he was in favour of the province playing at least one fixture against an international touring side each season.
Munster’s win over the Wallabies on Tuesday night was the province’s fourth against Australia, but the first recorded at Thomond Park.
Munster coach Tony McGahan said the visit of one of the top international sides in world rugby had many benefits for the players, the city of Limerick as well as Munster Rugby.
Tony McGahan said: “I think we get a massive benefit out of these games. For the playing group and the young players it is an opportunity to soak up international experience against a top side. Those sort of games, the occasion and getting ready for a big match, for some guys it could be the biggest match they play in for two or three years.
“And hopefully it will build when they go into Heineken Cup and into the final series of the Magners League and Heineken Cup.
“I think it is great for the big crowd here who may not have the opportunity to get to Dublin and watch the autumn international games. So there is an element of that.
“There is the financial boost element to the city itself which comes from hosting such a game.
“Everyone gets something out of it. It’s a great thing. At least one game like this a year would be tremendous.
“From our end we would love it.”

Colm Kinsella


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