MUNSTER’S stand-in captain James Coughlan believes the experience gained from playing in front of 11,000 passionate supporters in France on Friday night will stand the squad’s fringe players in good stead in the future.
Tony McGahan’s experimental Munster side went down 19-14 to La Rochelle on Friday at the end of a mini camp in France, having recovered from a disastrous opening when they leaked three tries inside half an hour.
Back-row forward Coughlan said the experience gained by the younger squad members from playing in front of a near capacity crowd at Stade Marcel Deflandre would benefit them should they see action in the RaboDirect Pro12.
Munster continue their pre-season preparations this Friday night when London Wasps visit Musgrave Park for a glamour pre-season friendly (7pm).
James Coughlan said: “We made a lot of mistakes early on but that is to be expected and they will get ironed out in the next few weeks as we prepare for the opening game against the Dragons.
“The trip has been hugely beneficial and we will look to step it up again when we play Wasps at Musgrave Park on Friday and London Irish the following week. Playing in front of a huge crowd in France will help the younger players.”
Magners League holders Munster will also face London Irish at Thomond Park on Friday, August 26, again at 7pm, in a third pre-season friendly. Out-half Ian Keatley, who joined Munster from Connacht during the summer, enjoyed an impressive debut when scoring one of their two tries in an improved second half display.
Scrum half Williams is recovering from a slight groin strain but is expected to be involved in the friendly against London Wasps, along with Howlett and Botha.
The issue with Williams plus the absence of the Ireland-tied Tomas O’Leary and new full international Conor Murray necessitated the inclusion of Gerry Hurley, the former Garryowen scrum half who is now ith Cork Con.