Chris Farrell made his long-awaited return from injury last weekend when he was sprung from the bench in Munster’s bonus-point win over Zebre in Parma on Sunday.
The game, which was played in torrid conditions, provided the first minutes which Farrell has played this season and which were also the first since he injured his knee in training during the 2018 Six Nations.
Now with those crucial minutes under his belt, Farrell is just focused on getting back-to-back game time banked as he looks to get back to his best ahead of some season-defining fixtures over the next six weeks.
“Look, you can’t get too ahead of yourself,” Farrell said. “For me, it’s been eight and a half months since I played a game. Just to get involved in any way I can whether that be this weekend against Edinburgh or whenever that’s going to come, that’s all I’m looking for. To put a few performances back-to-back and build a bit of confidence is where I need to be.”
It’s always difficult when a player is out with a serious injury but it must be more difficult when your absence coincided with some pretty significant milestones like Ireland winning the Grand Slam, winning a series in Australia and beating the All Blacks in Dublin.
Farrell admits there was frustration but the main focus is just getting back on the pitch.
“Of course, being a professional, you always have ambitions of playing at the highest level in those massive games that they were over the last eight months and it is frustrating to miss out on those.
“While if you think, you’re never guaranteed to be in them but you always want to be in a position to put your hand forward for them. So there was a little bit of frustration but once you get over that initially, it’s all just looking forward to getting back.”
With the November internationals having come and gone; the immediate focus is Munster in what is a crucial period for the southern province as they look ahead to Heineken Champions Cup action in addition to interprovincial clashes in the Guinness PRO14.
Johann van Graan’s side have welcomed back a whole host of players from long-term injuries in recent weeks including Farrell himself, Conor Murray, Conor Oliver, Tyler Bleyendaal and Ronan O’Mahony. This, coupled with the returning international players puts Munster in a good position ahead of an intense period of the season.
Farrell admits there is a real buzz around the Munster camp this week and that the returning international players are now fully switched back into provincial mode.
“We just had a team meeting there and the auditorium is really filling up and there’s a real buzz around this week. The internationals are coming back and once they’re back in this environment, they’re not internationals any more.
“That’s the mindset they have and they really add to the squad. The buzz is brilliant this morning. This week will be massive and the next two weeks beyond that will be even better.”
The international break also offered an opportunity for Munster’s Academy players to stake a claim with Gavin Coombes and Fineen Wycherley in particular impressing.
“There are young lads like Fineen and Gavin Coombes who have come through the Academy here and they’re unbelievably talented having watched them over the last few months through preseason, through the games in which the lads have been away.
“They’ve really stood up and I think they’re going to be huge players. Fineen is a fantastic player and he did really well at the weekend again. Having Conor Oliver back is massive as well. He performed really well when he came on at the weekend and he’s got that dog in him to inspire this team whenever the internationals are away.”
Next up for Munster is a Friday Night Lights clash with Edinburgh at Irish Independent Park in Cork.