O'Donnell says Munster must step it up for big Tigers test

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

O'Donnell says Munster must step it up for big Tigers test

MUNSTER back-row Tommy O’Donnell says the Pro12 table toppers must improve performance levels for Saturday’s glamour Champions Cup clash with Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park, 3.15pm.

Munster are on a six-game winning run in all competitions, but O’Donnell and his team mates don’t need reminding that the Tigers completed a home and away double over them at the same stage of the Champions Cup 12 months ago.

O’Donnell believes Munster’s excellent run of results in recent weeks is down to the side being more clinical in possession.

O’Donnell said: “I think we are being a little bit more clinical in certain areas. Last year, it was just ball control. It wasn’t down to coaching, it wasn't down to a player specifically going out and playing badly.

“At times, when we needed to hold on to the ball, we lost it. This year we are being more clinical. We are getting scores at the right time. Defence is very strong this year too.

“It is somewhere we can lean on. We are definitely going to have to lean on it this weekend. 

There are a lot of players expressing themselves this year. There are players coming out and putting their hands up. Players do feel freer to play and have a go.

“That is something that is really being encouraged in this system. You are the player. You are what makes the system work and have a go.”

O’Donnell said that while their six-game winning run had generated a feeling of confidence in the squad, they were certainly not over-confident ahead of a critical run of Champions Cup and Pro12 fixtures.

“Yes, there is confidence there, but I don’t think we can be over confident. You definitely cannot be over confident going into Europe. You can say you are the best defence in the Pro12, but that doesn’t count in Europe.

“We are a game behind in the European competition, so we need to take each European game as a separate event and look after the overall performance instead of a single element like defence or lineouts or being the best at one thing.

“Every player needs to perform and you will usually get the win if every player performs. 

“These (Saturday) are the types of games you wanted to go to at Christmas in the old Thomond Park. People would sneak in to watch Munster play, in what ever corner you could get a ticket for. Lads were climbing walls. The buzz is back in that regard.

“There is 23,000 plus tickets sold at the moment, hopefully that will be sold out for the weekend too. Winning does that. Winning brings everyone out and creates a bit of a buzz.”