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Holland Looks For ‘Much-Improved Performance’

Holland Looks For ‘Much-Improved Performance’

Munster complete their pre-season programme when they play London Irish at Thomond Park (kick-off 7pm) on Friday, as part of a double header with their ‘A’ team taking on Connacht ‘A’ at 4.15pm.

Munster have suffered successive pre-season defeats to Stade Rochelais and London Wasps, but circumstances probably contributed as versatile forward Billy Holland outlines.

“I suppose we’ve been trying different things, that’s the nature of pre-season. In the game last week we turned down three points a few times, kicked to the corner instead and that’s something we probably wouldn’t do in a competitive game,” said Holland, following today’s training session in Cork.

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“To come out with a nil is very disappointing. There’s not too many fellas involved in games where we haven’t scored anything.

“But we’ve been trying different combinations, lineout wise, scrum wise, things like that. That’s not making excuses, but this weekend we need to deliver a much-improved performance.”

Holland reverts to the back row this Friday, having occupied a second row berth in La Rochelle and against Wasps. He added: “I don’t find the adjustment too difficult to be honest. There isn’t a huge different between second row and six.

“Obviously you’re looking to get on the ball a little bit more in the back row, be a bit more dynamic around the park.

“But in training we’re swapping in and out. Everyone in the pack knows two, three different positions. It’s part of the game these days.”

Competition for places is intense and Friday’s game presents the opportunity for players to put their hand up for inclusion in the Munster team for the opening RaboDirect PRO12 game against the Newport Gwent Dragons next week.

“Yeah, big time. Nobody knows what the starting fifteen will be, there’s so many positions up for grabs. This weekend is the last opportunity for lads to stake a claim.

“In terms of the team itself, winning is a habit. We’ve lost our first two games so we need to win this weekend, it’s as simple as that,” admitted Holland.

Although Tomas O’Leary was named in the extended squad for the London Irish fixture, he has been omitted from the matchday squad. The scrum half is expected to be in contention for a starting role in the RaboDirect PRO12 opener.

MUNSTER (v London Irish): Sean Scanlon; Doug Howlett, Danny Barnes, Lifeimi Mafi, Denis Hurley; Ian Keatley, Duncan Williams; Marcus Horan, Mike Sherry, Stephen Archer, Mick O’Driscoll, Ian Nagle, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan, Peter O’Mahony.

Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Peter Borlase, David O’Mahony, Peter Stringer, Simon Zebo, Scott Deasy.