Six Nations stars back for Munster

All six Munster players who started Ireland’s defeat of Scotland are expected to feature for the province in Friday’s Guinness Pro12 match with Zebre, (Thomond Park, 7pm).
Six Nations stars back for Munster

The return of Simon Zebo, Keith Earls, Conor Murray, Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O’Donnell and C J Stander will prove a massive boost for beleaguered Munster still smarting from last week’s defeat away to Cardiff Blues. The squad was subjected yesterday to what coach Anthony Foley described as “a very interesting review”.

The failure to leave Cardiff without a point obviously came under serious focus.

“We had a very interesting review of the game”, said Foley. “We didn’t do a million things wrong. We did a lot of things right. Unfortunately we conceded too many soft scores and that is something we need to focus on as well as maintaining pressure on the ball and the opposition. If we can do that we tend to win.”

The situation facing Munster is now so serious that there seems to be a deal of apprehension concerning the challenge presented by lowly Zebre.

“Under Gianluca Guidi they have changed a lot this year”, said Foley. “They have become a far more consistent side. They have a lot of internationals that were away during the Six Nations, coming back. Traditionally, they have always had a big strong pack, and you have Luke Burgess and Kelly Haimona at half-backs now, Mils Muliaina at full-back. They have a lot of quality out there. Having all six internationals in our side is evidence of the importance of this game.

“We have a few bangs and knocks from the week-end. Rory Scannell picked up a concussion and we are hoping Mark Chisholm will train on Wednesday. Tomas O’Leary is back fully and Duncan Casey will also train fully this week.

“We are not thinking ahead to the big Interpros coming up against Leinster and Connacht, we will focus on Zebre and making sure we try and get a result in Thomond Park on Friday. That’s how important this result is to us.”

“We all understand the situation we are in”, said Foley. “It is not going to make you play better. There is pressure on everyone. With the qualification system, Zebre are coming here looking to stay ahead of Treviso.

“The Scottish teams are trying to get one over on each other, the Welsh teams are all trying to get one over on each other, the Irish teams are trying to jostle for position.

“Everyone in the micro groups have their own little agendas. A lot of teams have to play each other before the end of the season. There is a lot of rugby to be played yet with five rounds to go. Everyone wants to get into the top six, into the top four and into the top two to get a home semi-final. That’s the way it is.”

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