Graham Rowntree has opened up about his feelings towards Munster just five weeks into his role as forwards coach.
Speaking to BT Sport in the build-up to the province’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup clash with Saracens in Thomond Park, the Leicester Tiger’s legend said it “feels natural” to be in the red kit of Munster.
“It feels natural. I’ve said this before, it just felt right. It’s a proper, proper club steeped in history. Huge following and huge expectation as well. Everyone knows who you are, every man on the street.
Rowntree was announced as the successor to Jerry Flannery in the coaching ticket early in the summer, however, he did not link up with the squad in Limerick until October when his World Cup duties with Georgia were complete.
Despite being only in the role a number of weeks, the 48-year-old shared his hope that he will be with Munster for a long time to come.
“They love working hard, they love the craic”, he said of the players.
“It feels like I’ve been here a long time. Feels like I should have been here a long time, I’d like to stay a long time. We’ll see.”
The other big-name addition to Munster’s set-up was senior coach Stephen Larkham who has already made a telling impact on the side’s attacking ability.
Rowntree has been very impressed with the Australian’s influence thus far and believes he has made Munster “tough to beat”.
“One thing Steve’s got us doing is challenging teams in areas where people don’t expect us too. I’ve really enjoyed my early days of working together. We complement each other well.
“We know what wins games and we know there’s certain things you have to be good at every week, you have to cover every week, but certainly you need someone in your group challenging the way you think about things.
“He challenges their skillset, and when we get it right, we’re tough to beat.”
Munster currently sit in the second place in Pool 4 of the Heineken Champions Cup on seven points. Johann van Graan’s men find themselves on level points with Racing 92 following the sides’ draw in Thomond Park last month.
However, their toughest task is yet to come as they host the reigning champions in Limerick before a return fixture in Allianz Park next weekend.
Rowntree does not believe Saracens performances will be hindered following their Premiership salary cap controversy, on the contrary, he maintains they will use it to their advantage.
“You’ve got to be on the money, on your mettle against Saracens. Whatever has happened off the field, I’m not going to get into that frankly because it’s just a distraction. Whatever’s happened, they’ll use it. That’s their DNA, they’ll use adversity.
“They’re almost more of a threat to me with all that stuff going on because it’s almost more of a reason why… “Right we’ll show everyone why we’re champions”. They’re dangerous. They’re probably more dangerous than ever.”
“No”, he emphatically stated when asked if Saracens had any weaknesses.
“They’ll be a tough team to beat but so will we. Especially at our gaff. Full house, 5.30 on a Saturday night, it’s going to be one hell of a game.”
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