Munster will be treating the season restart as do-or-die knockout rugby, and Andrew Conway believes that could be just the trick to curing his province’s trophy drought.
Conway, 29, has started and lost five semi-finals and a final with Munster in the last three seasons as the Reds’ bid for a first piece of silverware since 2011 have come up short.
They stand on the brink once again with the Guinness PRO14 2019-20 campaign set to resume on August 22 with two regular-season rounds of interprovincial derbies against Leinster and Connacht before heading straight into the play-offs.
And while Conway accepts it is the same scenario for everyone involved as rugby finally emerges from a five-month Covid-19 lockdown he recognises there will be no second chances if Munster are to secure a shot at the title.
“There’s no point pretending any differently,” Conway said Wednesday. “It’s strange for everyone though. It’s strange for you, strange for me, for Leinster, for Connacht, whoever. So we’re all in this mad boat together and you just adapt.
“|We’re treating it more that we’re going straight back into knockout rugby and that will be in our mindset, which is probably different to what we’re used to. But it’s probably something that we do have to change our mindset on to start having more success in knockout rugby further down the line.
“There’s obviously some sort of reason that we’re not getting over those semi-finals and finals and I think this has been a good place for the coaches to have a think over that and see why.
“Treating games across the board as knockout rugby consistently is probably a good place to start so when you get to the knockout part it’s not this monster that you’ve built up. It’s the same as last week, the same as September, October. So that’s where we’re at.”
Playing unbeaten champions Leinster first up at an empty Aviva Stadium is quite the challenge to kick off the restart and Conway, who was speaking as a Pinergy ambassador to celebrate the energy supplier’s re-brand and the return of competitive Irish rugby, added: “That’s a tough game. Any time you play Leinster, no matter what team Leinster put out, it’s a tough game for anyone in the world at this stage. But it’s exciting and we’ll be confident because we have a good team now too.
“We’ve got a few great additions and hopefully we’ll get a few lads back who have been out for key moments and then we’ll see what happens on the day.
“But it is very exciting, and nervous at the same time. Whenever you haven’t played for such a long period of time the mind is a funny thing, it can play tricks on you, but you’ve just got to embrace all these mad thoughts that go through your head and put the work in, and then once you’re there on the day you’ve done the work then. You can crack into it."