With the sold out signs going up at Thomond Park, Billy Holland did not need to stoke the fires underneath Munster’s St Stephen’s Day showdown with Leinster.
The Guinness PRO12 leaders welcome their second-placed rivals to Limerick next Monday for a game that yesterday became a league-record 26,200 sell-out for the province, surpassing the 2011 final between the two sides, played in front of 26,100.
Munster had added temporary seating at both ends of the ground to increase capacity beyond the normal 25,600 limit and for second-row Holland it is a game that needed no hard sell, regardless of Leinster’s 25-14 victory over their southern neighbours in October.
Rassie Erasmus’s side on Saturday lost for the first time since that Aviva Stadium reverse when they were pipped by Champions Cup pool rivals Leicester Tigers at Welford Road with a last-minute penalty.
And though the Leinster loss remains a reference point for Munster, Holland rejected talk of seeking revenge in Monday’s return fixture.
“I wouldn’t call it payback. I think where we are in the league, it’s first v second, Munster v Leinster, it’s a derby game. Irrelevant of what happened in the Aviva it’s a massive game,” Holland said following the 18-16 defeat at Leicester.
“There’s going to be a lot of rivalry, there’s a lot at stake but we’ll come back in next week and look at those areas of the game. Leinster will look the areas we were weak at during the match today and they’ll try to exploit that as well so we’ve a good bit of work to do in that regard.”
Despite the need to tighten a few areas ahead of the St Stephen’s Day return to action, Holland said he was satisfied with Munster’s European position, their hopes of qualifying for a first quarter-final in three seasons still very much alive with the losing bonus point at Welford Road keeping them within two of Pool 1 leaders Glasgow with a game in hand.
“We’re not in a bad place in this group. When we come to the next round of games in the new year it is in our own hands, so that is a positive. There’s two big games for us to play before then but when we come back to it hopefully we’ve learned from the few mistakes we made today.”
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