22 Apr 14
The Munster squad held their training session in Musgrave Park today in preparation for Sunday's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon.
"We'd a good performance against Neath and an extra week together so it's our third week together now and we'd hope for an even more improved performance on Saturday. Ayr are one of the most competitive Scottish sides every year, they had a very good win against Plymouth who are a good championship side and we're expecting another high standard match this weekend. From our point of view at this stage we've to focus very much on ourselves, making sure we just improve on the past performances."
"We're lucky we've been able to work with the same core players all along, the unfortunate part of an away Heineken Cup weekend is that the seniors bring three players in reserve, so that takes three players out of the squad that we may have had if playing at home in the Heineken Cup. But having said that we've a lot of depth, we've a quality bench as well as a quality side, and ya we're very happy with the strength we have."
And talking about that quality, academy player Luke O'Dea recently made his RaboDirect PRO12 debut off the back of his two B&I Cup appearances, the competition once again proving it's worth. "We've always said it's twofold, one we want to be very competitive and it's a good cup competition from our point of view, making the final two years ago we really warmed up to the competition after that. It gives us fantastic competitive games for our second string and obviously the second function is to produce players for the senior side."
"You look at Mike Sherry, Conor Murray, Peter O'Mahony, they all came through the side last year. Conor is an international, Mike travelled to the World Cup, Peter is playing week in week out, captaining the side. If we can produce two or three players every year for the Heineken Cup side we would be very happy."
And with Tralee hosting it's first B&I Cup game the side are looking forward to breaking new ground, "I suppose the only comparison I have is the pre-season training that we had down there. They were fantastic hosts, with fantastic facilities, and what was really pleasing that day was how good and big the crowd was. With the Heineken Cup match on afterwards Tralee are making a massive effort to create a real atmosphere and event down there."
"We're hoping that we get a good crowd, it's a massive difference and that's why we brought games out of Musgrave Park and Thomond Park where you wouldn't even notice five or six hundred there. We've had good games in the past in Clonmel and Waterford and we're really looking forward to our first game in Tralee, and if they are as supportive as they were for the training day it will be fantastic."