“It’s A Massive Game, We Want To Bounce Back”
22nd March 2018 By The Editor
Head Coach Johann van Graan, Tommy O’Donnell and Sammy Arnold all spoke to the media this week ahead of Saturday’s vital Guinness PRO14 clash against Scarlets at Thomond Park (5.30pm).
A family pack of four tickets costs just €40, buy online here.
Speaking ahead of the game, van Graan said: “Scarlets are a fantastic team. I looked at them over the last week. They beat Munster the last two times they played quite convincingly. They are a brilliant broken field side, and maybe their biggest threat is at the breakdown. Tadhg Beirne, who is coming to Munster next year, is by a long way in my opinion, possibly the best forward if not in the PRO14 but maybe in Europe this year. By a long way he’s got the most breakdown steals, the broken field ball-carrying, his lineout ability – he is a fantastic player.”
The squad has been challenged over the past number of weeks due to injuries and with players involved in the Grand Slam-winning Ireland team but van Graan is looking forward to seeing his squad step up.
“It’s a massive challenge,” he said. “That’s the beauty of rugby, every week is different. You can plan all you want but at certain stages you get thrown a curve ball or two. You’ve just got to adapt, that’s why we need to use the squad. If guys aren’t available you’ve just got to pick the next guy, and they’ve got to produce.”
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) March 21, 2018
Looking ahead to a huge two weeks of rugby that sees Toulon visit Thomond Park in the Champions Cup quarter-final next week before the two-week tour of South Africa, Tommy O’Donnell is delighted to be back from injury.
“I was out for 12 weeks. I was back available but then there was a couple of weeks of no games, so I got an extra bit of time to make sure the shoulder was fully right this time,” said the back-row forward.
“If everything goes well in these two weeks, then there are lots of games to be had after that. It’s an important game this week, build a bit of momentum, getting players game time, back into the fold – the lads who were in the Irish set up but who were not involved last week.
“Scarlets are a team we have become very familiar with over the last few years. We’ve had some crucial games with them. They are playing very well – their defence, and the way they are turning over teams is very impressive. They are chasing top spot in their side of the league, and they will be looking for a home semi-final, so they will be coming here looking for maximum points and trying to get a victory. The main thing for us this weekend is to come out with a win and come out with points.”
It has been a breakthrough season at the province for Sammy Arnold after injury stalled his progress last season and the centre has emerged as one of Munster’s key performers in recent months.
Having started the defeat to Edinburgh in Murrayfield last week, Arnold is looking for a reaction at Thomond Park on Saturday evening.
“We want to bounce back, and what we brought to the table last weekend wasn’t good enough. We will be hardest on ourselves as individuals and as a team. Scarlets are an awesome team at the breakdown, they have some great guys on the floor, and get a lot of turnovers. That’s something we have to be on our toes on this week.
“We want to bounce back, and the league is solely our focus this week. It’s a massive game that we are really excited about. It’s different this year, no one really knows what to expect as the format is new for everyone. But every game is a big game. You have to build momentum going into these big games, we are really looking forward to this one.”
Guinness PRO14: Munster v Scarlets, Thomond Park, Sat 24 Mar, 5.30pm; Tickets available online, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103. Tickets from just €7 (Student & Junior) with Family packs (two adults and two children) available for just €40.