Kidney looks to the future

OUTGOING Heineken Cup champions Munster are resigned to the fact there will be no silverware in the trophy cabinet this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be fired-up for tonight’s Magners League clash against their Cup conquerors, Llanelli Scarlets, at Musgrave Park (7.30).

Kidney is looking to the future: “Our main challenge now is to ensure we get a victory after a couple of defeats. It’s all about building momentum; the onus is on us to develop younger players and to ensure that we continue to progress.”

In that context, even though he is not in the squad, Kidney explained why Munster intervened to ensure prop forward Tony Buckley did not go cross-channel.

“We’re not here as a nurturing ground for English rugby,” said a determined Kidney.

The Munster coach is also confident the Heineken Cup impasse can be resolved.

“I think most people are sensible; people are fighting for position but everyone wants what is best for the game. I really believe common sense will prevail,” he said.

Getting back to the business in hand, Kidney is in no mood to accept second best tonight: “This is a very important match for us; we have to win for a variety of reasons. Who is to say that if a lot of results go our way that we can’t win it? It’s a huge ask, a very outside chance, but we have to go for it, and we won’t hold back,” he said.

Christian Cullen’s absence suggests the New Zealander’s career with Munster is over. Mossie Lawlor is now being groomed as a potential full-back in a back three that also includes Brian Carney and Anthony Horgan. Shaun Payne, one of Munster’s best signings, remains on the injured list.

It’s all change for the Scarlets as Director of Rugby Phil Davies has made a number of changes to the side which swamped Borders.

Full-back Barry Davies, winger Mark Jones and midfielder Gavin Evans survive the cull in the back line while loose head prop Phil John is the sole survivor in the front row.

Davies said: “We respect Munster as a team as they have been one of the most consistent sides over the past few years in the league and Europe. We have been using a squad system and this game sees a continuation of that.”

Flanker James Bater will captain the side and he is just one of several players out to impress Davies as the Heineken Cup semi-final fast approaches.

Bater noted: “It’s going to be tough as Munster will be seeking to avenge the defeat at Stradey Park a couple of weeks ago. Musgrave Park has been a bit of a fortress but we will go there in a confident frame of mind.”

MUNSTER: M. Lawlor, B. Murphy, B. Carney, L. Mafi, a. Horgan, R. O’Gara, T. O’Leary, M. Horan, f. Sheahan, J. Hayes, D. O’Callaghan, M. O’Driscoll, D. Ryan, A. Foley (captain), J. O’Sullivan.

Replacements:D. Fogarty, F. Pucciariello, C. Wyatt, J. Coughlan, J. Manning, J. Kelly.

LLANELLI: B. Davies, D. Daniel, M. Watkins. G. Evans, M. Jones, C Thomas, L. Davies, P. John, K. Owens, C. Dunlea, I. Afeaki, A. Jones, D. Jones, N. Thomas, J Bater (captain)

Replacements:. J. Davies, D. George, V. Cooper, G.Thomas, C. Stuart-Smith, P. Mackey, G. Evans.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox