MUNSTER will look to get back on track in the Pro14 when they welcome the Southern Kings to Musgrave Park on Friday night. Johann van Graan’s men have not been in action since their Champions Cup exit and the Pro14 is now their sole focus for the remainder of the season.
A win over their South African opponents could see Munster move from third to the top of Conference B, but that depends on other results. Top of the table Edinburgh take on second placed Scarlets in the Scottish capital on Saturday.
Munster welcomed Chris Farrell and Jack O’Donoghue back into the fold after their release from the Irish camp last week and both are available for the game against a side that senior coach Stephen Larkham classes as ‘very unpredictable.’
“Like all South African teams at the moment, they have the ability to open the game up. They play more of an unstructured game than some of the other teams in the competition so you have to be very conscious and very wary of that and make sure that you are shutting them down when you give them an opportunity from turnovers and kick returns or set piece.
“From our perspective, we have had the disappointment now of not being in the European quarter finals. Our focus is solely on Pro14. We have got guys coming in and out. Chris and Jack coming back, we are going to have that disruption and interference in our programme over the next couple of games. That’s something that we have got to get our head around, but we are very focused on trying to get our game as close to perfect as possible.”
Larkham also gave his thoughts on Ireland’s Six Nations games to date and the form of the Munster players that are currently in fine form for the national side. Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander have silenced the critics that questioned their selections and their performances are not a surprise to Larkham to the former Australian out half.
“CJ’s had two man of the match performances and I was impressed with Bomber (Andrew Conway) on the wing and Earlsy when he came on and Conor has been playing exceptionally well. If I look at it from a backline perspective, those guys are doing great.
“Then Pete, CJ and Killer (Dave Kilcoyne) have all had outstanding performances. It was an excellent performance by Ireland (against Wales) compared to the week before. It was another level. They controlled it exceptionally well and ran all over it in the end.
“Pete’s work rate off the ball is something that goes unspoken, but his impact on the ball was outstanding as well. Conor has been doing everything that we have wanted him to do here in Munster and been improving each week.
“He has had to come in from a World Cup campaign that was emotionally very draining and had a lot to learn, being in the nine position, new plays, patterns and structures that we have put in place since he had last been here. He has had to get his head around all that and I think that he has adapted and improved from week to week.”
Munster versus the Kings has a 7:35pm kick off at Musgrave Park and is live on eirSport.