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Van Graan Likely To Stick To European Formula For Edinburgh QF Showdown

Johann van Graan Munster

Sean McMahon reporting from Thomond Park 

Johann van Graan will likely stick to the team who recorded a narrow 9-7 victory over the Exeter Chiefs in the final pool game of the Champions Cup when Munster travel to Murrayfield to take on Edinburgh in the quarter-final next weekend. 

The Munster head coach was speaking after a mixed bag of a performance from his side which saw them trail 5-12 at halftime before producing a much improved second-half performance to emerge 31-12 winner against Zebre on Saturday night.

Van Graan says his side will learn from that opening 40 minutes but admits there were some mitigating factors at play, too.

“Various reasons,” Van Graan replied when asked why Munster were so off the pace in the first half.

“A lot of lads coming back into the fray. One or two injuries, our position that really started well and we’re making some mistakes. So a bit of everything.

Johann van Graan Munster

“The funny thing about rugby, it’s not how you start it, it’s how you finish it. I think it was a really good second half. We’ll learn from that first half. Obviously, they put in all of their internationals and we’ve got quite a few lads away.

“I’m really glad that a lot of the guys stepped up, specifically in the second half, that first 10 minutes. Guys like Darren O’Shea running the lineouts, he hasn’t started for a quite a while. I thought Jack O’Donoghue was excellent. So, a few guys got their opportunities and really used it.”

Johann van Graan Munster

Those “few guys” may have secured a place in the matchday squad for the Champions Cup quarter-final but van Graan stressed that he will likely use as much of the same side as possible that secured the vital win at Thomond Park back in January.

“Look, we have a set starting 15. The team that played against Exeter, hopefully, most of them will be available against Edinburgh. Monday will be the first time since the Exeter game that the whole squad will be back together so I don’t see massive changes from that game.

“One or two guys like I just mentioned put up their hand for selection and I’ll have a real good look at the game [Zebre]. I think it’s also important to look at the season and what we need to beat Edinburgh.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter