Every game is a must-win and Benetton are a side to be feared

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Every game is a must-win and Benetton are a side to be feared

Player diary


Rhys Marshall
Rhys Marshall

I was one of the guys who was not involved last weekend for the Cardiff game, but don’t worry, I’m fit and well. It was a case of everyone getting a game off as we approach the business end of the season and the Cardiff game was my down weekend.

It’s important that everyone is fit and on the same page as we hit the business end of the season.

It was nice to have a weekend off, but once again, it meant the S&C boys got their revenge on me.

Anyone playing was off on Wednesday and Thursday last week, but the rest of us were in for extra work.

It was pretty much me against four or five young backs on the pitch and I had to try and keep to their pace. It was pretty tough but enjoyable all the same.

My better half was on call for a few days last weekend so I had to stay at home and babysit her, but it worked well because I had some study assignments due too.



Johann van Graan has extended his Munster stayJohann van Graan has extended his Munster stay

Johann van Graan has extended his Munster stay

So Friday night I watched the boys against Cardiff and then I spent a few hours finishing off my work.

Buying

We’re in the middle of buying a house at the moment too, and boring as the detail is, there are plenty of forms to fill in and boxes to be ticked.

It’s exciting times though and we’re looking forward to getting that all finished, so I had a few things to take care of on that over the weekend too.

While I didn’t play at Irish Independent Park, I was involved for the Edinburgh game the previous week and reaching the Euro semi-finals meant we were all pretty chuffed in the lead-up to Cardiff.

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The boys were out on their feet after a big effort in Murrayfield, but that last five minutes was insane.

I was only out there for 15 minutes and I felt the pinch, so it was a great effort from the boys who played the whole game.

That’s testament to Edinburgh, they are a great side. It was always going to be a big job so it was a real relief and a feeling of ‘job done’.

When you win those big games it really puts a smile on everyone’s face.

To be honest we’re not expecting any drop in the standards from our opponents for the rest of the season.

We’ve only two PRO14 games left in the regular season either side of a Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens, and then we’re guaranteed a quarter-final or semi-final in the PRO14. They’re all going to be huge.

I thought the boys really fronted up against Cardiff, they’re a team who we knew were going to bring a lot at the breakdown.

I think we lost two or three possessions to them but against a team that average eight or nine turnovers a game, it was hats off to the boys for that work.

When you put an emphasis on something in the build-up to a game, to a man it really pays off.

I thought the set-piece worked well and in attack the boys were good.

For sure we’ll need to maintain those standards this week against Benetton.

You can’t count on a win against Benetton and the fact that we have to go to Treviso, with them being third in their conference they are really going to front up against us.

I know a couple of lads playing with them and it’s going really well for them. Toa Halafihi, their No 8, is another bloke that played for Taranaki.

Toa and I played together for a few years at senior level. He’s a good mate of mine. Monty Ioane, their winger, was with the Chiefs for a couple of years.

Those two boys are on fire for them this season, so I’ll make sure I catch up with them when I get over there and get in their ears. It’s always fun playing against your mates.

Even with a bit of pressure on both teams for this one, we know what we’re in for: it’ll be a running match and an enjoyable game to be part of.

I saw their game against Leinster and it just goes to show, home or away, they are going to show up and play a good brand of rugby.

Kieran Crowley is in charge there and he’s another proud Taranaki man. With him in charge they’ll do the simple things well, but the exciting thing about them is in attack they go for whatever is on.

They always try to find a gap with an offload or good hands, so we have to be on our toes.

This is probably the biggest game in their history, so who knows what they can do if they reach the play-offs?

Our coach Johann announced to us earlier in the week that he was staying on for another two years, which was very cool.

Exciting

He’s got a plan for Munster going forward and a good few of us are in that plan. There are exciting times ahead for the province.

Munster belongs at the top and since Johann came in he has been a real influence.

He has made a few changes, but the biggest thing he has done is ask us to be a bit better at what we do on a daily basis.

It’s great for the club to have that assurance that he’s going to be there going forward, and in my opinion that’s especially important for the young players who have been given their chance.

First and foremost it’s all about tonight though.

We have a massive five or six weeks ahead of us and every game is a must-win from here on. Knowing that means everyone’s minds are fully focused.

Irish Independent


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