The Anthony Foley era at Munster may have got off to a shaky start, but, as Dave Kilcoyne was reminded, the same thing has happened to the very best of them.
Building up to Saturday’s European Champions Cup opener at Sale Sharks, the province appear to have turned a corner following back-to-back wins over Leinster and Scarlets that have designated below-par home defeats to Edinburgh and Ospreys as teething problems.
Munster are still far from the finished article as they start life under new head coach Foley and there may well be more issues cropping up along the way.
But loose head prop Kilcoyne believes his side have to keep convincing their supporters it will all be all right in the end.
“I was reading the Roy Keane book last night,” Kilcoyne said. “It is funny you mention that because Alex Ferguson said when he took over at Man United, he went through that rough patch as well at the start.
“Look, there is a whole new system change there. We have a different form of attack, a different form of defence. It is not going to happen day one, but against Leinster was probably our most complete performance so far. We had a big task to back it up the following week against Scarlets.
“Last season we probably struggled to back up big performances the following week. Glasgow (following the Heineken Cup quarter-final trouncing of Toulouse last April) would have been one of them where we didn’t back that up. We showed fight and a bit of dog in us to get that win against Scarlets at home.”
The league has been parked for a while now and there’s another big performance required this weekend in Manchester before Saracens visit to Thomond Park the following Friday.
“The only way to put bums on seats is to give the supporters something to cheer about,” says Kilcoyne. “ Sale, this weekend, it starts there. We need to be as physical and as ruthless as we have been so far. It is going to be our toughest test of the season so far.”
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond relishes the role of underdog.
“One will imagine Munster’ll be looking at us as the whipping boys and that’s exactly how I want it,” said Diamond. “They’re a ferocious team at the breakdown, they’ve got world class players and the big Celtic league clubs, this is when they peak.”
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