Dave Kilcoyne: Munster playing rugby the way it should be played 

The Ireland prop is loving the new training methods under Munster's new coaches, but admits players 
Dave Kilcoyne: Munster playing rugby the way it should be played 

HEADS-UP RUGBY: Munster's Keynan Knox and Dave Kilcoyne comes up against Ion Neculai of Zebre Parma. Pic: INPHO/Ben Brady

Dave Kilcoyne has praised the impact of the best coaches Munster have had in years but has warned that the players still need time to get to grips with their new way of playing.

The Ireland prop, who had been sidelined by a neck injury sustained in last year’s Six Nations until his return at Cardiff on September 17, was as relieved as new head coach Graham Rowntree to finally get Munster’s season up and running with last Saturday’s first BKT United Rugby Championship victory of the season, a 21-5 home win over Zebre Parma at Musgrave Park.

Many of the problems that led to defeats in rounds one and two at Cardiff and Dragons were still in evidence in Cork at the weekend and while the experienced loosehead believes there were plenty of positives to take into this Friday’s trip to Connacht for the first of three interprovincial URC derbies this month, he said the Munster squad needs to quickly get to grips with new systems and training methods being implemented by Rowntree and his newly structured coaching ticket of Mike Prendergast in attack, defence coach Denis Leamy and Andi Kyriacou, the new boss’s successor in charge of the forwards.

“Time is of the essence - in our game, that's every day,” Kilcoyne, 33, said. “A week is a lifetime in this game. Yeah, there's plenty of work-ons. We'll definitely take the positives from that game. I thought Craig (Casey) exited excellently, his kicking (against Zebre). I thought his game management was very good.

“I thought our maul was very good. I thought set piece... So, I think there's definitely areas we'll take to build on but there are definitely areas we can get better — especially in our D, I think.

“We have bought into the system that Leams has brought in. He's been excellent. It's just new things, new coaches, and they've brought in completely new ways to play. It's very exciting. In my opinion, it's the way rugby should be played. And we're all just trying to get to grips with it.” 

Last Saturday was Kilcoyne’s 203rd appearance for his province and the second start of his 12th season in the Reds’ front row but the Limerick prop said he has never experienced a training regimen like the one being driven by Rowntree since he took over from Johann van Graan this summer. So Saturday’s win over Zebre, while it lacked the expected try bonus point, was an important stepping stone in the bedding-in process for the new era.

“If you look at how we're training this year... I've been at Munster a long, long time and we are training at a tempo that I've never trained at with Munster before. Our sessions are excellent in terms of putting skills under pressure at high tempo, and that's what we need.

“I think it definitely took us a while to get used to it. We're slowly getting into it.

“The relief today... We're happy enough with the win. We wanted the bonus point, there's no point in shying away from that. I thought at half-time we would have but as I've already alluded to, the growth prospect is huge inside so that's what we're all trying to do: fulfil that potential.” 

Kilcoyne is certainly looking and feeling in great shape as a result of the new, high-intensity training methods, even if he found his return to the action for the first time since the final game of this season’s Six Nations in March a challenge.

“I do feel very good. I was blowing, definitely, last week: that was my first start in seven months since that Scotland game in the Six Nations. I had a long time out of the game and I suppose, for me, it definitely created a hunger for what you're missing. I missed even travelling, you know? Going over to Bristol, staying with the lads... It gets taken away from you and it gives you a new gratitude to be back, and a hunger.

“Especially when the coaching group we have inside is, in my opinion, the best we've had in a long time. It's very exciting and they're playing rugby the way it should be played. It's up to us, now, and the coaches, to merge it all together.

“It does take a little bit of time… time is of the essence so we'll try to get better every day. That's all we can do.” 

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