The benefits of a single training base for Munster Rugby are well documented but for scrum-half Duncan Williams there is an additional bonus.
Munster moved into their new centre at the University of Limerick on Monday with spirits high after their hard-fought opening victory at Scarlets 48 hours earlier.
With positivity abounding under new director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, the delivery on schedule of the €9.75 million facility underscored the optimism ahead of Friday’s first home game of the Guinness PRO12 campaign against Cardiff Blues in Cork.
And none more so than for Williams, who impressed behind the scrum at Parc y Scarlets and is enjoying some long-awaited personal space in the state-of-the-art training facility.
“It is very nice in fairness,” Williams said. “We all have our individual lockers and changing space, so it is different from before where I had to wrestle with Duncan Casey and Mike Sherry for a space and they normally ended up putting me in the bath. So, it has been pretty good so far.”
The mood in the Munster camp after an undefeated pre-season and a first win in Llanelli since 2011 is easy to ascertain from Williams. “Everywhere is different when you are winning, compared to losing. We have had three good wins and we are building a bit of momentum.
“The sun is shining, we are together every day, what more could you ask for?”
Erasmus and his staff may beg to differ after an uncomfortably long test of incoming defence coach Jacques Nienaber’s credentials which needed some clinical finishing at the other end to overcome a talented Scarlets side that enjoyed 65% possession. Williams praised the defensive effort, saying: “It may seem we were a little stretched, but we were all perfectly calm out there, we knew what we were doing and we were hunting them to the touchline and making our tackles. We made them commit men to the ruck and then we reset off of that and made sure we had line speed. It might not have looked too comfortable, but we all (felt) comfortable out there.”
Just 16 minutes in, Munster had made 42 tackles and forced the home side to make just two of their own but made amends by breaking out and scoring a try with their first visit to the opposition 22, Williams cleverly switching play from a breakdown five metres out to wrong foot Scarlets and put in prop James Cronin under the posts.
“We didn’t have much ball there at the weekend. Anytime we do get a bit of ball in the attacking half it is much quicker and it’s my job to get in there and move it as quickly as possible. We seem to be doing some good stuff when we do get that quick ball. That has been a theme of our pre-season really. Even in the friendlies, when we get into the opposition 22, we seem to come away with points. I think a lot of credit has to go to the coaches on that. Hopefully, we will get more of the same going forward.”
It will need to be, against a Cardiff side which impressed with a 34-16 trouncing of Edinburgh at the Arms Parks on Saturday.
“They were very impressive,” Williams said.
“They have a very good back rows, two very good centres. They signed Steve Shingler from the Scarlets, he is an impressive 10, so we expect nothing different from them. They are a good team and they will bring it to us at the weekend.”
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