15 Apr 14
The Squad trained in UL today ahead of what is now a must-win interprovincial derby away to Connacht if Munster are to secure qualification for the knock-out stages of the RaboDirect PRO12.
"Look," he says, "of course we were gutted to lose that one. Never mind the rivalry between the sides, it was a semi final of the Heineken Cup. The prize was a place in the final obviously so yes of course it hurt. I have no doubt Leinster felt exactly the same way in 2006."
"But thats all been dealt with. There is always the talk about the rivalry, of course there is. It brings great anticipation by the supporters and also by the players themselves . So yes it is something we look forward to. Its the same for every club, there's the local derby no matter who you are. I think that's great. It adds to the whole thing and you can't move away from that."
"For us and indeed Leinster it's a case of where we're at right now and how we can perform on the day. For our part we've improved over the past three games, integrated players back into the squad and we complete that process of integration on Saturday, being able to deal from a near full compliment. It does make it that bit more difficult with players coming back at different stages but we knew we'd have these problems coming into the season and we were lucky enough to be able to supplement the squad with a number of young players and expose them to the rigours of professional rugby. So in that aspect its been excellent."
One of those who will cause a stir when he steps out on Saturday evening is Springboks Jean de Villiers - who himself was particularly complimentary about his opponents on Saturday, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Rob kearney, Shane Horgan and Isa Nacewa.
"Of course its great to have a player of his class in the side. It was a very difficult situation for him to come into the starting side after just a couple of sessions (training), we had intended starting him off the bench last week. But I'm sure he's looking forward himself to taking his game forward this weekend. We've a very busy three weeks with Leinster and the two ERC games so it's good to be ale to get him out there."
The form of Nick Williams against Dragons also boded well for Munster even if it gave McGahan a selection dilemma, " Nick has gone through a difficult time with injury so we're delighted for him. He had a very good pre-season, trained well and started very well, then picked up an injury (knee) against London Irish so for him to come out and do what he did we're delighted for him because we know how much hard work he's put in."
"I suppose the back row selection issue was helped by Quinny (neck injury) not being available but young Tommy O'Donnell has certainly put his hand up and so too James Coughlan when he's been called."
"In terms of Saturday the game is a welcome addition to the calendar in that you're playing against quality opposition leading into the Heineken Cup but our whole focus will be on this game because first and foremost its the league points that are on offer that we're after. We remain focussed on that."