Munster forwards coach Andi Kyriacou is hopeful that the feelgood factor from their win over South Africa can continue in Edinburgh this Friday evening as they bid to win three games on the spin for the first time since April.
The 28-14 win at Páirc Uí Chaoimh during the autumn break was followed by a bonus point win over Connacht last weekend and Kyriacou reckons they can continue the upward trend after the impressive over the South Africans.
“It's just grown the belief that we can execute what we are trying to do against good opposition, physical opposition,” said Kyriacou.
“It's been nice to have that in there during that break. It's actually been a bit of a springboard in terms of that positive momentum that we have been after. We're excited about this next block of nine games.”
Injuries, the Emerging Ireland tour and the autumn internationals have forced the Graham Rowntree management to dip deep into the depth chart, but Kyriacou believes this will bring long-term benefits.
“It's massively important, having to go as far into our squad as we have done. I think we're at 55 or 56, that's how far we've gone down there.
“It's been brilliant in one aspect, because it's given lads a lot of exposure, a lot of reps, so they're up to speed with the system, but it's a nice luxury to have to know you can pick from the bank of players that we've got when they're all fit.
“We can drill that little bit more consistency in our timing, our understanding of how each other works, and those key bits we're trying to drive as a group, those coaching bits.”
But Kyriacou said there are plenty of areas to work on. They encountered a lot of difficulty in the scrum against Connacht but Kyriacou is pleased with the way the pack has developed, from what they have done in the province and the work the internationals have gone through with Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell.
“We've gone through quite a process over that first period. I think we are in a good position now and I think there have been different routes of people's developments throughout that period,” added Kyriacou.
“So, within the national team lads going away and working with Paulie and the boys up the road. Obviously them carrying that momentum on from a national level.
“The lads that went away on the Emerging Ireland tour, they've been developed and exposed to that national programme as well, which has benefitted us.
“And then due to that and injuries, we have been in a really good position to develop our younger lads and give them exposure.
“Now everyone is back fit and we've got a full group to pick from, we feel that the development of this group has massively moved on.
“We're happy with where we are. There's still lots of stuff we're trying to work on and improve but we are happy with the process that we have made over this past period.”
John Ryan is set to make his 200th appearance for the club. He is one five changes to the side that secured a bonus-point win against Connacht last time out. The Cork native is one of four alterations Rowntree has made in the pack, with fellow front-rowers Niall Scannell and Jeremy Loughman coming into the side.
Gavin Coombes is back in the starting XV in place of Alex Kendellen, where he joins Peter O'Mahony and John Hodnett in the back-row.
In the backline, Shane Daly moves to full-back and Simon Zebo comes into the side on the wing. Halfbacks Joey Carbery and Craig Casey keep their spots, as do the midfield duo of Rory Scannell and Antoine Frisch.
Jack Crowley is deemed fit enough to take his place on the bench after he picked up a knock last weekend, while Patrick Campbell is included among the replacements and is set to make his sixth appearance of the season.
Munster: S Daly; C Nash, A Frisch, R Scannell, S Zebo; J Carbery, C Casey; J Loughman, N Scannell, J Ryan; J Kleyn, T Beirne; P O’Mahony (Captain), J Hodnett, G Coombes.
Replacements: D Barron, J Wycherley, R Salanoa, J O’Donoghue, A Kendellen, P Patterson, J Crowley, P Campbell.