Van Graan happy with his lot ahead of another Interpro

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Head coach Johann van Graan and Joey Carbery in conversation during a Munster Rugby squad training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Head coach Johann van Graan and Joey Carbery in conversation during a Munster Rugby squad training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

JOHANN VAN GRAAN is just over a year into his Munster contract and despite rumours of a return to his native South Africa a couple of months ago, he is quite happy where he is. Munster are coming off their first win over rivals Leinster in van Graan’s time as head coach and they also sit top of their Pool in the Champions Cup.

“I’m enjoying every single day,” he told Sporting Limerick this week. “Every week is a challenge and that’s what European rugby is about. There is not really a weak team in our competition. We are enjoying our time here. The most pleasing thing about the last year is that we were unbeaten in 2018 in all European and Pro14 games at home. We are very proud of our home record. Obviously we want to make improvements in all areas of the game and I think we have shown that we have.”

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Munster face into a third Interpro game on the bounce with a trip to Galway on Saturday, knowing that a victory could see them go top of the Pro14’s Conference A. On the flip side, a defeat to Andy Friend’s Connacht would see Munster drop to third with Connacht replacing them in second place. Van Graan has been impressed by what he has seen from the western province this term.

“Their most impressive thing is their kicking game. They have got some real distance kickers in their natural phase play. They are putting teams under pressure and have scored some special tries over the last few weeks specifically and have good results. It’s going to be another big test for us in another Irish derby. They are a proud team at home. They make good decisions at the breakdown and have got some good line speed. They are a team that seems pretty fit and at both sides of the ball they are good.”

Munster could welcome back Chris Farrell, Liam O’Connor and Rhys Marshall for the game in Galway after the trio returned to training during the week. A call on their participation will be made closer to kick off on Saturday.

Chris Cloete is awaiting results of a scan to determine the seriousness of the neck injury that saw him leave the field on a stretcher in the first half. He was on the receiving end of a high shot by Tadhg Furlong and the Leinster prop was shown a yellow card for the offence. Munster released an update earlier this week that said: “Initial investigations were normal, but he will undergo further assessment this week to determine the extent of his neck injury.”