Munster set for double Italian job

JJ Hanrahan, Munster, scores his side's fifth try against Edinburgh on Saturday evening
MUNSTER Rugby head to Italy later this week to face back-to-back RaboDirect PRO12 games with Zebre and Treviso.

MUNSTER Rugby head to Italy later this week to face back-to-back RaboDirect PRO12 games with Zebre and Treviso.

Munster will also spend a week between this Friday evening’s PRO12 clash with Zebre and Saturday week’s fixture against Treviso at a week-long training camp close to Lake Garda.

Friday night’s clash with Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile has a 6.30pm kick-off Irish time.

Munster made the perfect start to their RaboDirect PRO12 campaign when securing a maximum five-point haul in their 34-23 bonus point win over Edinburgh at Musgrave Park on Saturday evening.

Rob Penney said the upcoming training camp would give Munster an opportunity to ‘focus on what we really need to achieve as a group.’

Penney said: “(Team manager) Niall O’Donovan did some great lobbying on our behalf and we were able to get some early games in Italy.

“Because we’ve got two away games in succession and rather than travelling back and forth, we’re able to stay over and fundamentally we’ll get through the rugby stuff we need to get through.

“We’ll have a bit of time around Lake Garda getting into the water, recovering well and preparing well for really difficult back to back games against Zebre, who at home are very tough, and we just scraped home against them the last year and against Benetton Treviso, who spanked us over there last year.”

Munster out-half Ian Keatley said the use of space was key to Munster utilising their gameplan to the full.

Keatley scooped the Man of the Match accolade in the weekend win over Edinburgh and played a key role in setting up two of Munster’s five tries.

Keatley explained: “We’re looking to put the ball into space. It’s not necessarily to get it wide, we’re looking for space.

“Whether it’s through the middle or out wide through hands or with our good kicking game we’re just looking to get the ball into space whichever way is better we’ll use.

“It’s not really a wide-wide game it’s about getting the ball into space, wherever that is we’ll play it.

“It was working very well tonight (against Edinburgh).”

“If the team identify the space, the whole team is playing well, especially the forwards and once they give us go forward ball you saw tonight we can do something with it.”

Keatley said the Munster players were determined to improve on their PRO12 showing of last season when they missed out on a place in the play-offs.

Keatley said: Last season our PRO12 season got a bit away from us.

“That’s our bread and butter and we should be winning every week in that competition. We really focus on that this year.”