IT has been a frustrating season for Marcus Horan and his Munster colleagues but the experienced prop believes redemption is within sight.
Horan holds out little more than a thread of hope that he will make Ireland’s World Cup squad this September.
“All I can do is try and show on the pitch when I get a chance,” he sid.
“My fitness is improving and I am enjoying my game the last few months. Hopefully, if I play well, I will be noticed and make a late run for a spot in the squad.
“I have been to two already — Australia and France — and it would be the aim to get there again. It was always my focus to get back in the reckoning, but I have been out of the loop for a bit now and it is always harder to force your way back in.
“All I can do now is keep performing for Munster and see what happens over the summer.”
His focus is firmly on Saturday’s Magners semi-final clash with old rivals Ospreys at Thomond Park, now that a back strain appears to have eased enough to allow him go forward for selection today.
It has been very much a stop-start season; even though he has 17 Munster appearances, he started only a few of them, having to come off the bench for Wian du Preez in most of the games.
“I had a good pre-season,” he said, “but I missed the all the key points of the season — the Autumn Internationals, Heineken Cup games, the Six Nations.
“That’s kind of tough when you’re sitting at home watching the guys playing, especially in the Heineken Cup this season the way it went for us. It’s hard to be a spectator when things are going bad like that for the team.”
He sees the last two seasons as a disaster in one sense but also counts his blessings.
“I have to look at the broader picture, and to the previous nine years when I had a clean bill of health.
“I’ve a had a great career up to that, getting in the squad, getting in the team, winning medals... they were all challenges. But the new goal is to try and get back into the team and claim the number one position.
“The more mature guys in the squad always look for these challenges to drive them; I’ve been handed one in that sense in terms of trying to get back into the team.”
Horan is conscious that, in a sense, the eyes of the rugby world will be on Munster come Saturday following their failure to make the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup for the first time in 13 years and that subsequent Amlin Cup capitulation to Harlequins.
Munster meet the Ospreys for the fifth time this season on Saturday and they’ve won three of the previous four, although crucially not the one that mattered most in the Heineken Cup at the Liberty Stadium.
“They will be hurting from that (Munster won 22-20 with a last minute penalty), so we are expecting a bit of a reaction from them this time.
“They qualified for the last four by the skin of their teeth, but they have a very strong squad and will definitely be keen to show what they can do.
“They will not be afraid to come to Thomond, especially after last year when they beat us. We need to put that right to be honest. It will be an intense match with no favours given”
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