Munster squad captain Peter O'Mahony chats to his squad ahead of the Connacht clash this weekend
MUNSTER will be looking to win just their third game away from home this season when they make the short trip to Galway on Saturday night to face Connacht.
The Pro14 round 13 tie kicks off at 7.35pm on Saturday night at the Sportsground and Johann van Graan's charges will be looking to add Connacht's scalp to the Cheetahs and Zebre, Munster's only wins on the road this season.
Following Munster's win over Leinster at a sold out Thomond Park on December 29, it is a case of balance in having players ready for the Gloucester away trip in the Champions Cup on January 11, while also making sure that there is enough quality on the park to maintain second spot in Conference A. A rung on the ladder the winner of this weekend's tie will hold at the full time whistle.
Speaking about last weekend's win over Leinster, Munster head coach van Graan added,
“It was a really bruising encounter and there are quite a few stiff and sore bodies and that’s what you expect when two top quality teams go at each other for 80 minutes. It was a real dogfight. Both teams wanted to win and both gave it their all until the very last second. I still think we were the better team for 80 minutes, although with a lot of improvement still to come from our side.”
Munster's main injury worry from that win is backrow forward Chris Cloete.
“Yeah, he is very sore, but thankfully he’s walking around and it’s not as serious as it looked on Saturday. It looks like he won’t be available this week and there are quite a few knocks and bruises. I think the whole team has gotten something somewhere. Both teams were really climbing into each other, but I think most guys will be available for selection [for the Connacht game]. Chris Farrell might be back and Rhys Marshall is back on the field. Liam O’Connor is back training, which is great news after his horrific knee injury last year, but James Cronin, Brian Scott and Dave O’Callaghan will still be out for quite a bit of time, so some you win and some you lose.” added van Graan.
“We always knew this was going to be a massive game in terms of the conference, said the South African coach.
“You also want to build into Gloucester next week, so we might rotate within the 23, but I don’t foresee a lot of changes.”
One man who could start on Saturday is Billy Holland. Should he do so, the second-row forward will win his 200th cap for the province. He is looking forward to the challenge.
“They (Connacht) are a completely different team to last year, they are playing some really good rugby, they seem like a very difficult team to break down. It’s going to be one of those eight points swings this weekend. Whoever gets the four points will be very happy”