Munster Rugby look to bounce back from European defeat against Connacht

Donn O'Sullivan

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Donn O'Sullivan

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Munster Rugby look to bounce back from European defeat against Connacht

Conor Murray in action against Saracens last weekend

MUNSTER will look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing their seventh semi final in a row as they face Connacht this Saturday at Thomond Park in the Pro14.

The tie, which kicks off at 7.35pm (Live on EirSport) is a chance for Munster to ‘get back on the horse’ following their 32-16 loss to Saracens at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

“You put your heart and soul into that performance and it’s not me, it’s all of us.

“The management and the players, we gave it all we got and we got short. We’ve got to face the reality, look at what happened in the game, take out what you can and move forward” admitted Munster's head coach Johann van Graan this week.

When asked if his side can get their focus back for this weekend and the weeks ahead in the ‘lesser’ competition that is the Pro14, van Graan believes his charges have no other choice.

“You just have to make the switch. I think it’s something we’ve done well all season. We’re in week 43 and we’ve had some disappointing weeks and we’ve had some brilliant weeks. We’ve had a lot more positive weeks than negative weeks.

“It’s an important game because we still have a shot at a home semi-final and that’s a big carrot for us. We’ve got to make sure that we beat Connacht. They’ve done really well, they could have beaten Leinster away and they have beaten Ulster away and they’ll come here in the belief they can beat us here” the South African native warned.

Munster know that if they beat Connacht and Edinburgh defeat Glasgow, they could make it into top spot in Conference ‘A’ and secure a home semi final.

The more likely outcome however is that Munster will face a Pro14 quarter final against Treviso, at Thomond Park on the weekend of May 4.

Should they win that one, they would be facing Leinster in Dublin on the weekend of May 17, which would be the weekend after Leinster play in the Champions Cup final against Saracens.

On the injury front, Dave Kilcoyne and Joey Carbery could miss this weekend with an ankle and hamstring strain respectively.

In other Munster news, it was confirmed this week that Munster centre Jaco Taute will leave the club.

The 27-year-old Taute played Super Rugby with the Lions and Stormers before moving to Munster, initially on a short-term contract in 2016.

Taute scored two tries in a win over the ‘Tigers’ in the European Cup in 2016 and was named in the Pro14 Dream Team that season.

Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy said:

“We’ve obviously seen Jaco close-up in European competition and he is a big, physical unit in the backline with extensive experience in the southern hemisphere and also at the top-end of European rugby”

In other rugby news, former Munster rugby hooker Duncan Casey has announced that he will retire at the end of this season.

The Shannon club man is currently playing with French side Grenoble in the Top14, but the front row forward is calling it a day after 6 years as a professional.

Former Glenstal Abbey star Casey has played 46 times for Munster and scored five tries since making his debut against Perpignan in the Heineken Cup at Thomond Park in December 2013.