South African challenge for Munster’s logistics team

Malakai Fekitoa and Tadhg Beirne test the Toulouse defence during Sunday's Champions Cup tie.

MUNSTER Rugby’s logistics team is working in overdrive on plans surrounding two separate trips to South Africa in April. 

It was already known that Munster would be based in the home of the Springboks for two weeks for back-to-back URC final-round fixtures against DHL Stormers in Cape Town (April 15) and Cell C Sharks in Durban (April 22).

It was only revealed at the weekend that the province has also been paired with the Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup at the King’s Stadium on the opening weekend of April. 

Had Saracens justified their favourites tag against Edinburgh at the weekend, Munster’s last 16 fixture would have been in North London. Instead, another South Africa trip beckons for an ever-improving side under coach Graham Rowntree.  

The next round is not a two-legged affair, which makes Munster’s trip all the more daunting. 

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Munster will be on their travels again next weekend in an away bout in the URC to Benetton in Treviso, Italy.

“To me, what makes a class team is what you can do on the road, winning away from home,” commented Rowntree. 

“We’ve had a couple of good moments there recently, Edinburgh, Ulster, today (in Toulouse) would have been a nice feather in the cap but wherever we go, we’ll be well prepped.”

He added: “We’ve Glasgow in March, so we’re probably looking at getting to Durban on the Tuesday or Wednesday. In and out, smash and grab. Now to be honest I’m thinking about a tough Treviso (Benetton) game.”

Leinster, who have been drawn home to Ulster, are 11/10 favourites to win out the Championship, with Munster chalked-up at 40/1. Sharks are 16/1 shots. 

On the narrow loss to Toulouse, Rowntree reflected: “We’re tough to beat. That’s the bedrock of what I want us to be in terms of our DNA.”

“I’m really pleased with how we’re going. But then you come here and we could have won that. I’m gutted,” he added.