Munster face their toughest task of the season so far when they travel to Dublin to take on Leinster this Saturday – a fixture that has not been kind to them in recent years.
Their most recent encounter with the European champions came in May when Johann van Graan’s men missed out on a place in the Guinness PRO14 final by a single point. While Munster were poor for large portions of that match, they showed glimpses of the offloading and quick-paced style of play they have adopted this season.
One man who is enjoying this newer, high-risk approach is Andrew Conway who believes that his side have merely adapted to what is expected in modern rugby.
“We’ve probably tried to come on a bit from where we were last year and Rory [Scannell] is really good as first receiver, he’s played a lot at 10 anyway. Sam Arnold is working really hard at getting in as first receiver and being able to boss the guys around.”
“You want to be able to do every job on the rugby pitch. We all need to have the ability to poach, we all need to have the ability to get in as first receiver, not the props per say but as a backline, you can’t really say, ‘OK I’m a winger, I’m standing on my wing’. Those days are gone.”
Munster are preparing for one of the most difficult months of their season. After the Leinster test, they travel to Sandy Park to take on Exeter in the first game of the Heineken Champions Cup before welcoming Gloucester to Thomond Park. To round off the month, Glasgow come to town.
With so much on the line, there may be a tendency to revert to the old, tried-and-tested method but Conway maintains that with great risk comes great rewards and that everyone needs to play their part to ensure Munster don’t go backward.
“That’s the battle to try and not go back, not revert into what you perceive as ‘safe’ because that’s probably not safe rugby because it’s predictable and against the good teams, the Leinsters and the European guys, you’ll get found out.”
“If we line up and we’re really slow and they know we’re kicking a box kick, it’s quite easy to adapt to, for them to get guys in correct positions to escort me back if I’m on the wing. Then it’s very tough for me to get up with the ball, they win it back and they get into their game. So that’s the constant battle.”
“But that’s a 15-man job. It’s not just on the 9s and 10s, it’s across the board that you have the good communication coming in from all areas of the pitch and we can then effectively take where space is. That’s the name of the game.”