Munster’s Coughlan fired up for breakdown battle

James Coughlan has promised Munster will not lack aggression at the breakdown as they aim to avenge Leinster for their RaboDirect Pro12 defeat at the Aviva Stadium last November.

Leinster will arrive at Thomond Park this Saturday buoyed by the return from injury and Six Nations duty of renowned ruck exponents Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy in midfield as well as opposing back rowers Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip.

Coughlan, though, is determined not to be playing second fiddle again. “What’s always a massive issue is the breakdown. Leinster have an Irish international back row and it’s not just their back row, you look at Darce and Drico, they’re doing it week in, week out, stealing ball.

“They follow the ball and get to the ball a lot, throughout the team. We know if we’re lacking there, if we’re a second off, then it’s not going to be good enough. If you’re a second off against Leinster, you’re going to lose the ball.

“So we’ve put in that focus ourselves. We’re going to be aggressive at the breakdown and make sure that we get the ball that we need. If it’s slow, if they slow it down, they’ll set their defensive line and it will be hard to break them down.”

Following defeat in Italy to Aironi and the subsequently hard-earned victory over Connacht in Galway last Saturday night, Coughlan admitted improvement in those areas are needed to hang on to second place in the Pro12 behind Leinster.

“We’re not [happy], which is a good thing, though, I suppose. It gives us plenty to work on during the week. So we’ll do as much as we can this week and then it’s just about going out and doing it on Saturday.

“The focus has always been on a home semi-final. We knew maybe a couple of weeks ago we needed to pick up as many points as we can and try and take points off the teams that are around us. We can’t take points off Ospreys so we need to win against Leinster to continue that and progress and get a home semi-final.

“We can’t really focus on what the chasing pack are doing so much as focus on what we’re doing to stay ahead of them, as much as we can.

“The Connacht game, we had to win to keep ourselves going and Leinster’s no different. We have to win at the weekend to keep ourselves in that second spot.”


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