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McGahan Has Munster Primed For RDS Raid

McGahan Has Munster Primed For RDS Raid

Leinster will put their impressive home record on the line – they have not been beaten at the RDS since last October – when Munster pay them an early season visit on Sunday.

It promises to be a memorable occasion as an 18,500-strong crowd watches the much-anticipated meeting of the reigning Magners League and Heineken Cup champions.

Individual battles and provincial bragging rights aside, the two teams will be bolstered by a near full contingent of Ireland internationals and some quality summer signings from the Southern Hemisphere.

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Munster coach Tony McGahan, who has enjoyed an unbeaten start to his reign with three straight league wins, is expecting Leinster to hand debuts to CJ Van Der Linde and Rocky Elsom.

“We will probably see them both this weekend and they’re coming into a well structured set-up with a coach (Michael Cheika) that’s entering his fourth season,” he explained.

“Michael has had plenty of time to bed down his ideas and get the side playing his way. Also they have some other good quality staff in there like Jonno Gibbes, Alan Gaffney and Kurt McQuilkin.

“They’ve got a very strong management team coupled with a very good group of senior players along with quality new signings.”

Munster will be keen to erase memories of last season’s matches between the provinces, which Leinster won 10-3 (at Musgrave Park) and 21-12 (at the RDS).

The Dublin tie, when Felipe Contepomi (six penalties) and Jonathan Sexton (one drop goal) kicked the hosts to victory, sticks in McGahan’s mind.

“I don’t think it’s right to say we got beaten up (by them in April), but we just didn’t turn up and give ourselves a chance to do enough.

“Leinster played with a lot of intensity that night. Now we’re going to focus on ourselves and what we can bring to the table.

“That’s how we’ve approached the season so far and that’s what we intend to do on Sunday.”

Top of the league pile, Munster are arguably the form team in Celtic rugby at the moment thanks to two bonus point home wins over the Newport Gwent Dragons and Cardiff Blues.

McGahan’s squad rotation policy is working a treat, with plenty of players putting their hands up for selection and with the internationals on board from the start, competition for places is very high.

But the Reds’ Australian coach feels an improvement will be needed if they are to remain at the league’s summit and transfer their form seemlessly into the Heineken Cup.

“From a coaching perspective I don’t think we’re near where we should be at the minute. We’ve had some pace on the work we’ve done and that has been pleasing, I suppose. But we still feel we have a little bit to go,” he added.

“I think we need to get more from our kicking accuracy, we are still conceding penalties on our own attack ball and have to be more accurate.

“But some of it is more a referee’s interpretation than anything, and that we need to adjust to.”

One area that Munster have been criticised in, in recent weeks, is their lineout and McGahan conceded that his side need to ‘get better returns’ from their set piece.

“Looking back from Edinburgh through to Cardiff, I think it’s maybe a matter of improving our timing. There have been a lot of changes in those last three games and we need to bed new ideas down.

“Laurie (Fisher, our forwards coach) has brought some great ideas with him and it’s just a question of continuing with the good things we did in the past and marrying them with new ideas that he brings to the table.

“I don’t think we’re far away from getting things right – there’s a very thin line now between success and failure, what with the type of contest there is going on for possession now in the lineouts, but I’m sure it will come right.”