Increased push for places has driven us on

Munster's Donnacha Ryan and JJ Hanrahan, left, warm up during squad training at CIT yesterday. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

RABODIRECT PRO12:
Scarlets v Munster
Donnacha Ryan believes increased competition for places has driven Munster on in both the RaboDirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup.

The international second-row reckons Munster have already come a long way from where they were last season, notwithstanding theachivement of having reached the last four in Europe in Rob Penney’s first year as coach.

“It’s great,” said Ryan in relation to the progress he feels has been made. “It raises standards across the boards and that is what we want. We didn’t really figure too well in the Rabo last season. We finished sixth and it was a reflection of where our squad was at.

“This year it is a lot stronger and guys are capable of coming in and replacing guys who get injured or get called up for Irish selection. It’s great to have that level of competition in training. The sessions can be pretty ferocious at times.”

Ryan, recently back from injury, has failed to make it back into Joe Schmidt’s national squad, but, for now, he’s happy to continue his rehab with Munster and increase his game time.

He is aware of the competition at national level, though, and of the need to push his case further.

“Paul (O’Connell) is playing fantastic and Devin (Toner) is also playing really well. Mike McCarthy is playing great stuff, so, all in all, there’s intense competition out there. Here in Munster it’s good to see Dave Foley coming through in the last number of games, he’s getting good experience as well.

“But competition is something I’m used to. I’ve been behind Micko (Driscoll), Paul, Donners (Donncha O’Callaghan), Mal (O’Kelly) and the rest of them so it’s not something I’m not used to contending with.”

Clearly he hopes he can push his case with a quality show for Munster against Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets tomorrow. Munster are in search of an unique record in that should they win they will have completed the double – home and away – over all four Welsh regions for the first time.

Ryan helped Munster to a solid victory over Ospreys last week but he believes it could be tougher this time out.

With just a six day turnaround between two away games, Ryan hopes a shortened training week won’t impact negatively on the squad, although he believes it won’t.

“It’s important that guys learn to recover properly and eat proper food and do a quick turnaround. Obviously it’s going to take a big effort this weekend but there is a break next week and hopefully we will be really able to put it (effort) in this weekend.”


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