O’Driscoll Firmly Focussed
16th September 2011 By Munster Rugby
Munster won’t lack for experience tomorrow night as they seek to maintain their unbeaten start to the RaboDitect PRO12 League in the game against Scarlets at Musgrave Park (7.45pm). Five of the Munster starting pack tomorrow have accumulated over 700 competitive caps while the other three have just 40.
Five of the Munster starting pack – Marcus Horan, John Hayes, Mick O'Driscoll, Niall Ronan & James Coughlan – have accumulated over 700 competitive caps while Peter Stringer is set to win his 220th cap.
The side will be led however, on his 22nd birthday, by Peter O'Mahony, winning just his 14th cap but it's a role that he enjoys and one that's accepted by all in the squad.
“I've played with Peter as captain for a long time now with Pres and Cork Con. I know exactly what he's like. He's a brilliant captain. You wouldn't find a better motivator around the place to be honest.” says Simon Zebo.
O'Mahony is just 176 caps behind Mick O'Driscoll who wins his 190th cap tomorrow and has captained the side countless times but arguably most effectively and most often, in 2008/09 when they captured the League title.
O'Driscoll has no problem handing over the captain's armband. “I think it's great to see it go from arm to arm if you like. James (Coughlan) and Dougie have led the side and their always there to lend their support. We've always said there are plenty of leaders in the squad and that shows there is.”
“With new fresh faces, I think it's a good thing that one of them is leading the side. Peter has plenty of experience at it, at club, in school and Under 20s so he knows what's required. and he's shown he's well up to it.”
O'Driscoll is not really one for numbers when it comes to playing rugby so when the talk turns to how many successive league games Munster has won, he interrupts straight away. “Look, what we won last season counts for nothing this time around. What we'll be aware of is that we've won our two games so far. That's it. You don't carry forward points forward from last season.”
“And next up is Scarlets at home and the aim is to win that. Pure and simple. Others can talk of records or whatever, but we start the season with a clean sheet. Two games gone, two wins and even they're consigned to history for now because all that matters is the eighty minutes or so tomorrow night.”
Munster: J Murphy; D Howlett, T Gleeson, L Mafi, D Hurley; I Keatley, P Stringer; M Horan, M Sherry, J Hayes; D Foley, M O'Driscoll; P O'Mahony capt, N Ronan, J Coughlan. Replacements: D Fogarty, W du Preez, BJ Botha, B Holland, T O'Donnell, D Williams, S Deasy, S Zebo.