23 Apr 14
Ireland's Rugby Union Players Association (IRUPA) yesterday announced their 2014 award nominations with four Munster players in contention for honours.
Out wide then, Jean de Villiers continues in the number 12 shirt while Niall Ronan takes over at openside from David Wallace - who anchors the scrum - with their principal contenders, Lifeimi Mafi and James Coughlan named on a strong bench that also includes, Damien Varley, French prop Julien Brugnaut, Donnacha Ryan, Academy player Stephen Archer, and backs, Peter Stringer and Ian Dowling.
McGahan accepted that preparation for the game has been disrupted somewhat by the weather. "It has been a little bit, but it is what it is and you really have to make sure that you deal with that. We're lucky enough that we haven't really been compromised with regards to being outdoors but we have been compromised with regard to training on grass pitches. Wednesday last was the first time we trained on a grass in two weeks.
"So it was a welcome relief for us to get out on a pitch. But we've been able to focus on organisation, rest a bit more not have such intense sessions because of the pitches. We're very confident going into this game that we've got a lot of good work done."
In terms of the game itself, McGahan believes a good start is vital on Saturday. "Yes, absolutely. If we don't start well this weekend and let them dominate the scoreboard as they have in every other game it'll be a difficult task to claw them back.
"In the last game (at Thomond Park) I thought we played very well in the first half, and the scoreboard didn't reflect that. We had Marcus who was in a bad way on there for the first 15 minutes and we had about three or four scrums that were put back and Marcus ended up missing the tackle on the short side that led to the first try.
"I thought we put a lot of good work in the first half and didn't get the rewards that we were looking for but did at the back-end of the first half when we scored two tries and we ended up getting that payback in the last 15 minutes of the game when we scored 3 tries.
"But, as I said, the most important thing for us is our start. To make sure we work ourselves into the game in the correct manner, in field position and intensity and our work-rate and give ourselves every opportunity to be successful."
Munster: P Warwick; D Howlett, K Earls, J de Villiers, D Hurley; T O'Leary, R O'Gara; W du Preez, D Fogarty, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; A Quinlan, N Ronan, D Wallace. Replacements: D Varley, S Archer, J Brugnaut, D Ryan, J Coughlan, P Stringer, L Mafi, I Dowling.