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Munster Complete Their Preparations.

7th November 2007 By Munster Rugby

Munster Complete Their Preparations.

Munster complete their preparations later today in Cork, ahead of Saturday’s mammoth clash with London Wasps in Coventry’s Ricoh Arena, with a final training run after which Declan Kidney will sit down with his coaching staff to decide the final composition of the starting XV and replacements.

Kidney has named a 25 strong squad for Saturday and the areas that will require the closest scrutiny would appear to be full-back, centre, wing and front row.

Shaun Payne and Denis Hurley vie for the number 15 shirt following Hurley’s impressive return to action last weekend. Kieran Lewis, Lifeimi Mafi and Rua Tipoki are the contenders for the centre position and if Brian Carney has recovered from the nasty cut he received against Edinburgh he will likely start on the right wing.

Up front Marcus Horan is back after soldiering with Shannon last weekend which leaves Kidney to decide between him and Federico Pucciariello while Denis Leamy and Anthony Foley will be wearing either jersey number 8 or 18 on Saturday at The Ricoh.

For Munster’s Head of Fitness & Conditioning Paul Darbyshire, Saturday visit will afford him the opportunity to catch up on his old mate Shaun Edwards, the London Wasps coach, ” Shaun and I came from the same amateur club, Wigan St Patricks and later I played against him when I was at Warrington he was at Wigan, so yes I know Shaun well.  He was a very skilful player. He’s a very determined guy whatever he puts his mind to and he’s done a great job at Wasps. He could be moving up to international standard and no reason why not cause he’s a quality coach. So looking forward to catching up with him, haven’t met him in a few years.”

Its Edwards who will be plotting Munster’s downfall but Darbyshire expressed his satisfaction with where his squad are right now, “They’re all in good spirits. There’s a lot of good work been done. The internationals coming back have slotted in quite well. Obviously there’s been a period of integration back into the squad but that’s gone very smoothly.

With the lads coming back from the World Cup you would of course have liked maybe another week before facing into what he have to,  but then it’s the same for every other team. Wasps are going to have players playing their first game this weekend so it’s the same for everybody.  On that score it’s a pretty level playing field.

“We’ve tapered back training somewhat leading into the Heineken Cup games so hopefully they’ll be fresh going into the next two games. But yes, everyone’s buzzing an ready to go. “

Asked to pinpoint Wasps’ area of strength, Darbyshire responds  immediately, “Their physicality. They are very physical up front that’s something we must be ready for and match. We have some very useful backs but our forwards need to get on top of their pack if we are to allow those guys space to do any damage. So whoever wins up front I think holds the key to the game.” he says.

And what of playing at the Ricoh Arena. “I don’t think it’ll be any advantage to either side. It’s going to be the same for both teams.  It’s a neutral venue really, I know they’ve played there in the past.

“Hopefully the Munster supporters will be there in their thousands. It’s a great surface, it’s a football surface and I know the guys are looking forward to playing on it. ”



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