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Hard-working Munster keen to make that winning step forward

By Aidan Corr
IT’S been a busy summer for Munster’s backroom team with visits to New Zealand, South Africa and parts of Europe. According to head coach Johaan Graan (pictured) this week a few of the coaching staff went across the world to do a piece of research so as to improve the skills of the players: “We put a lot of time and effort into the individual skill and these early season friendlies are important because we can give players an opportunity and we can try different things, one or two combinations, before we get to the league stage.
“During the summer break some of the coaches went to New Zealand, some went to South Africa and others went to Europe. We covered wide and different areas with particular focus on diet, food, sleep, recovery. Small margins are so important in this game. We saw last season how we won a quarter final by one point and lost a semi-final by one point. I said it before, one point is the biggest and the smallest margin in the world.”
Asked about the new arrivals to the squad, the South African replied: “Joey Carbery is a down to earth kind of guy, a quality individual and he has fitted in very quickly. He is one of five fly-halfs in the squad and he knows he has to perform. He has a very good head on him, he can kick with both feet, he is calm, composed and he has a very good understanding of the game.”
Injury news from the Munster camp is that Tyler Bleyendaal is being given more time to recover from his neck injury, Jack O’Donoghue is re-habbing his knee injury, Liam O’Connor is in a similar position, Chris Coete could be out for a while with a groin injury, Conor Oliver dropped a weight on his foot and is out for four weeks. On the plus side Jean Klein, Rhys Marshall and Niall Scannell are all back in training.
Hooker Kevin O’Byrne is hoping to get some game time on Friday night when London Irish visit the splendid new playing surface at Indepenent Park: “I think these pre-season games are massively important and it gives us a chance to play on the 4G surface. We are well used to these kind of pitches so it will not be new to us. Hopefully we can put into play what we have been practising for the last seven weeks. For guys like myself it gives us a chance to put our best foot forward and show what we are capable of. We want to put our hands up for the rest of the season.
“The coaches have brought in some fresh ideas like quick feet at the warm-ups which is good and it is new. Joey Carbery is settling in well and the other new guys, including the four academy lads and Arno and Tadhg, are fitting in well. There’s a bit of the usual banter but most of us have been together for a while and we know one another fairly well.”
Munster kick off their season this Friday night in Cork with a game against London Irish, kick off 7.30pm. Tickets available on the Munster Rugby website.

JOHAAN Graan

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