17 Apr 14
The ever popular Munster Rugby Summer Camps are back for Summer 2014.
It's going to be an exciting time for both the head coach and the national squad as a number of new plans are in place to boost Ireland's preparation for the Six Nations competition.
In December a week long training session in northern Spain has been organised - the first time the squad will take part in a camp of this nature - and the home Six Nations game have all been moved to Friday nights under lights at St. Mary's. This is a welcome change and it should ensure a larger support base.
Following the recent Interprovincial campaign we should also see a number of new faces on the Irish squad. The competitiveness of the final games of this year's competition, which both came down to just a score, highlighted the difficulties there will be in deciding between players for certain positions. At backrow and at centre there are massive options for the head coach but there are places up for grabs elsewhere.
The Cobh based Irish coach John O'Sullivan is happy with the standards that were on show over the course of the provincial series as he attended every game and a number of training sessions.
"I was happy with the progression of the players. There were notable improvements in some well known players and there were also a lot of newer players putting their hands up. I'm going to see a game in Dublin this weekend because there are a number of tight decisions to be made that I haven't made my mind up on yet. We'll take 35 players on board for two sessions in November and whittle that down to 26 then before we go to Spain."
It's O'Sullivan's second Six Nations campaign with Ireland but this year's buildup has no comparison with 12 months ago.
"I was appointed Irish coach last year in November with just one Interpro game to play so I didn't get much preparation time. We didn't have the November sessions which we do now so that will make a huge difference I feel. A week in Spain with the squad where we hope to play two games will be another boost and we have three home games this year against Italy, Wales and Scotland which will benefit us as opposed to a lot of travelling."
Playing the home games at St Mary's this season should also prove beneficial he added.
"For a lot of reasons moving the women's games to Friday nights will be a positive thing. The girls will have to take more time off work for sure which is hard but it gets us into a routine and it also means they get to go to see the men's games and we have a better shot at getting a good crowd. St. Mary's is a good venue for games under lights. Things have also changed for us in an organisation capacity with the IRFU coming on board and taking over planning issues such as hotel bookings, and flight details and that really makes a massive difference to our preparation."
*Ireland's Six Nations games will all be played under lights on the Friday nights of Six Nations weekends at St Mary's.
*Ireland will travel to Spain in December for a one-week training prep - the first time a camp of this nature has taken place
*Irish extended squad to be named on Monday.