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New six-week competition may yet benefit the local AIL clubs

JOINING the province last November, Johann van Graan’s decision to come south has been relatively rewarding. Taking his side to the two semi-finals in his first seven months in charge has given him the perfect platform but mentioning last Monday that some sources were talking up his side as potential PRO14 champions was not what he wanted to hear:
“Today this is all about Saturday and our opening game, we are not looking any further than that. Those things are nice to hear but we only look at the next game. Over the week-end we had multiple opportunities to score good tries but did not take them. All that matters is that we produce the results on Fridays and Saturdays and that’s the important thing.”
Johann trotted out the injury list without taking a breath. It was quite extensive, the figure almost reaching the 20s. Because of that, there could one or two new players coming in for this opening competitive game against the Cheetahs next Saturday in the Guinness PRO14 at Thomond Park (5.30).
“The Cheetahs are well known for their fantastic attacking game and I expect them to do very well as this is their second season in this competition. Our defence will have to be at its best on Saturday. I would have liked to have a few more games for our guys in the pre-season but it is the same for all the teams.”
We asked the head coach his opinion of the new competition that will replace the B&I Cup over the next six weeks: “It’s exciting to see this new development competition, it’s starting next week-end I believe and it will give a number of our younger guys the chance to play against international competition on a weekly basis. Whether we get guys free to play in the AIL is not my call at this stage. Our squad is pretty thin at the moment and we’ll have to filter it down as we go along.”

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