The frontliners are away with Ireland and European competition has been put to bed for another six weeks but Munster can ill afford to switch off when they return to Guinness Pro12 action at Cardiff Blues on Saturday, Billy Holland has warned.
With 10 players missing from Anthony Foley’s squad this week having checked in with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt ahead of November’s Test matches, the Munster management will this weekend find out just how strong and deep the quality of their playing pool is when they travel to the Arms Park.
Yet second-row Holland, who featured off the bench in Friday’s 14-3 victory over Saracens which sent Munster to the top of their Champions Cup pool with two wins from two, believes the players that have remained with the province have plenty to prove and will continue the good run of form that has brought four wins out of the last four.
“If you think about the effort we put in against Leinster to win those four points or over in Italy, we got four points. The Scarlets was a tough game getting four points there. You completely devalue those four points if you don’t put in a good performance this weekend,” Holland said.
“Cardiff are on a roll, they have 10 points from their last two (Challenge Cup) games in Europe. They are full of confidence, we are going to have a lot of changes but it is up to us to gel over the course of this week and take full advantage of that. There will be a lot of guys playing this weekend who haven’t had an awful lot of first-team rugby. If you take the 10 or 11 guys that are up in camp there, they have been our starters so you have guys that have been on the bench for the last few weeks looking for action and you have guys who have come in from the A squad looking for action.
“So I expect there will be a good focus out of guys that are coming in and getting an opportunity like this.”
Speaking after Tuesday’s squad training session at the University of Limerick, Holland said he had been encouraged by the effort put in, particularly by the Munster A players fresh off their 23-12 B&I Cup win at Nottingham.
“They had a great win over in England at the weekend. You play any team in England at any level and it is going to be difficult so they are buzzing.
“It is a huge opportunity for guys to come in, if you are not starting you are asking the coaches why not and these are the opportunities that coaches are giving fellas back.”
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