HOOKER Mike Sherry is hoping the lessons Munster learned from successive PRO12 defeats to both Ospreys and Leinster will inspire them to a precious away Heineken Cup success over Racing Metro at the Stade de France this Saturday.
Munster head to Paris to face the big-spending French Top 14 outfit still smarting from recent losses to both Ospreys and arch rivals Leinster. Twenty four year-old Sherry is predicting Saturday’s Pool 1 opener to feature an immense forward battle.
Limerickman Sherry said: ““We are judged on how we do in the Heineken Cup. That was the case the year we won the Magners League in 2010-11, We refocused on the Heineken Cup last season and did well in the pool stages.
“Then, in the quarter-final, we all know what happened, we didn’t show up on the day.
“I don’t think there will be any panic buttons pressed if we don’t get the result we are looking for on Saturday. There are still five games to go and it is a hard place to go. We are going there with the intention of winning.
“We are aware of what is ahead of us. They are going to come after us. They have a big pack. Their forwards are going to be running hard at us. As a young pack, we need to front up. Maybe we have been thought a few lessons over the past few weeks and we need to bring them with us now, bring them with us. They have a big, typical French pack. They like to play the French mauling, scrummaging style.
“It is really exciting to be playing at Stade de France. I have never played there before. I have never been there. Hopefully, that will bring out the best in us.”
Having burst on the Munster scene in spectacular fashion in 2010-2011 when he made 19 appearances for the province and was called up by Ireland to the World Cup in New Zealand, Sherry’s progress was hampered by injury last season. After an uninterrupted pre-season this summer, the dynamic ball-carrier and powerful scrummager is looking forward to enjoying significantly more game time this term.
“Last season was very frustrating,” Sherry admitted. “Getting called out to the World Cup at the start of it was great. Not playing over there and being sent home four days later was a bit frustrating, but it was brilliant to be called out.
“Picking up that injury (with Garryowen), which lasted for the bones of five months, really set me back. Towards the end of the year, I was getting going again as was being called into the Irish squad. Not playing over in New Zealand was disappointing.
“I got a good pre-season under my belt. I am really looking to get game time now and try and motor on from where I was.”
Competition for the starting place at hooker in the Munster side is keen and both Sherry and Damien Varley have each started three of their province’s six RaboDirect PRO12 games this season.
Sherry said: “There is good rivalry between the hookers, Damein Varley, Sean Henry and myself. Myself and Varls have made three starts each so far this season. They are mixing and matching, getting similar amounts of game time to put our best foot forward. Damien got ahead of us for the Ireland camp which was well deserved. It can only help that we work so closely together. We practice throwing together, we are in the gym together. On the pitch we are looking to get tips off each other scrummaging wise, breakdown wise, tackling wise and carrying wise. It can only improve us both.
“I love our style of play at the moment. There is not as much work for me. I tend to be in the wide channels. You get a bit of space to move your legs and get your hands going. From my point of view, I love it. I think everyone has really bought into it.”
Sherry revealed he is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps and win a full international cap with Ireland.
“My dad (Michael) got two caps,” Sherry said.
“That is the goal. I haven’t gotten a cap yet. I have played Wolfhounds and Ireland v the Barbarians, but it wasn’t capped. That is the goal to emulate him.”