Munster were dealt a blow immediately before kick-off on Saturday in their Heineken Champions Cup opener against the Exeter Chiefs when Keith Earls pulled his hamstring in the warm-up and was replaced by Darren Sweetnam.
For Mike Haley, who started that game at fullback, he would have already been focusing on the difficulty that lied ahead, mostly, how he would deal playing in a gale force wind. But to have one of your back-three partners ruled out immediately before the game, it can’t be ideal.
In terms of the wind, thankfully, that wasn’t something new for Haley as he would have played there numerous times during his time at the Sale Sharks.
“Luckily, I’ve been there [Sandy Park] before, and it’s been the exact same. If anything, I actually said to the lads in the week that I’ve been there and it’s been bad so I doubt it would be like that but it could be and then we turned up and it was like that!
“You just deal with what it is, you can’t really control that, you just control what you control. It’s a European Cup debut for Munster, you’re going to enjoy it, it’s going to be great and I really did.”
In terms of Sweetnam’s late inclusion, Haley was full of praise for the Dunmanway native, as he revealed the 25-year-old only found out he was playing about 30 seconds before kick-off.
“That’s credit to Darren Sweetnam, isn’t it? How well did he play? I think he found out 30 seconds before kick-off that he needed to start, comes on and within the first three minutes he’s getting contestables back straight away, that shows his class,” Haley said on Monday.
“So when you have a player like Darren Sweetnam stepping in, even though it would have been great to play with Keith, you know there’s no drop off there, he’s going to put in a performance just as good.”
With Earls undergoing a scan on his hamstring yesterday, the results of which are not yet known, it looks likely that Sweetnam will start alongside Haley for the visit of Gloucester to Thomond Park on Saturday but based on his performance on the south coast of England, there will be nothing to worry about.