The unfortunate injury that rules Cathal Sheridan out for the rest of the season has opened a window of opportunity for Duncan Williams as Munster’s season reaches a crucial stage.
With the province top of the RaboDirect Pro12 and qualified for the last eight of the Heineken Cup, Cork Con’s Williams can now look forward to challenging Conor Murray for the scrum half position.
So far this season, Williams, 27, has been happy with his lot having got a fair share of starts, and he should get a good deal more now that Sheridan is out of the picture. He does realise, however, that he has a right job on his hands to make the number nine shirt his own.
But he is looking forward to challenging for it nonetheless. “In fairness to Conor, he got his opportunity and when he did he kicked the door down. We have to say he has done very well. He has become a Lion and so we can’t argue with that but it is a squad game now and Cathal and myself have had 18 starts between us so it is really a group effort. Competition is everything.”
That competition will persist, and coach Rob Penney was at pains to point out this week that another scrum-half, and indeed Cork Con man, Gerry Hurley – who is only on a training contract – will have a bigger role to play in the weeks to come.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for Cathal,” continued Williams, “and you feel for the guy, he’s only just back from one injury and now he gets another. I suppose it is part and parcel of the game though. When Conor got injured earlier in the season Cathal came in and played against Perpignan and had a great game; now myself and Gerry (Hurley) will be looking to do the same thing.”
Williams is happy with Munster’s progress this season and with the rotational selection policy employed by Penney to allow a young squad build on their experience, most recently in last week’s win over the Ospreys.
“It wasn’t the most entertaining game, a lot of defending was required but we got there,” said a relieved Williams, who started on the bench in the 25-11 away win. “We showed what we were all about and we were delighted with the result.”
This week it’s back to Wales for a game with Llanelli at Parc Y Scarlets, and for Williams and his Munster teammates, an opportunity to secure a clean sweep of victories over Welsh sides home and away for the first time in Munster’s history.
“Last year, we were at the wrong end of a bad result there although it was a game we could have won. So it should be a good contest and to do the double over the Welsh sides would be good.”
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