Munster head coach, Johann van Graan, has insisted that he doesn’t need to see “pretty rugby” from his players in their PRO14 quarter-final with Benetton as long as they get the win.
A loss against the Italian side in Thomond Park on Saturday would bring Munster’s season to an end after they exited the Heineken Champions Cup at the hands of Saracens earlier this month.
Munster have plenty of experience when it comes to knock-out rugby and van Graan and his team are well aware that the scoreline is all that will matter in the end.
“If you don’t win this weekend, there’s no rugby next week.
“Both teams know that whoever wins this is going to go through to a semi-final against Leinster. You don’t get points for pretty rugby at this stage, you’ve just got to get through the next round.”
Munster have been boosted by the return of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls to full team training and van Graan is confident that the duo will be available for selection this weekend.
Another player who is fit for the showdown is Conor Murray following his neck injury scare prior to the PRO14 game against Connacht last weekend.
The return of the injured players has been warmly welcomed by the head coach and has provided him with a selection headache.
“We’ll go with our strongest possible team. Quite a few guys have put up their hands for selection. The openside is a big battle at this stage, the selection of the 10 will be a big battle, selection of the centres.
“Last season, at some stages, we could barely put out a backline and guys like Rory [Scannell] and Sammy [Arnold) played the whole season. Now we’ve got four guys fighting for two spots.”
This is Benetton’s first time in the PRO14 play-offs and they are the first Italian side to ever progress this far. While it is a step up, van Graan is not taking his opponents’ threat lightly, given their recent results in Ireland.
“They deserve their place in the play-offs. Their last two visits to Ireland, they drew with Leinster and drew against Ulster, Ulster scored that last try in the last play of the game to draw against them.
“I think they’ve only lost one of their last six or seven games away so they’re a very good side with a lot of confidence and international players all over the park. It’ll be a big game for us”.