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O’Connell And Company On Course For Zebre Game

O’Connell And Company On Course For Zebre Game

Although happy with Munster’s win away to Benetton Treviso and the marked improvement on the Edinburgh performance, head coach Anthony Foley has identified some areas to be worked on following ‘the Italian job’.

“Certainly in the first half, we played with a lot of intensity and physicality in our game. Good discipline, good use of ball, but unfortunately we didn’t turn around in the second half and have the same level of performance,” Anthony Foley told www.MunsterRugby.ie.

“We fell back in the penalty count and after that Treviso played a lot more rugby in our half. It was disappointing because any time we got into their half we looked very threatening.

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“Our physicality was much better and the use of ball, we used it a lot better this week. In particular in the first half our ball carries were beating the first man we were getting them on the front foot and we had them under pressure.

“That said we still had some missed opportunities. There was a glaring one at half-time where Treviso intercepted a try-scoring pass to Simon (Zebo) from Andrew (Conway), and there were missed opportunities again in the second half. We’ll now go away, mull over those and look to rectify them.”

The high penalty count at scrum time was something that hindered both sides over the 80 minutes at the Stadio di Monigo.

“We can control that better, we don’t need to be going to ground and we can’t allow a referee to make those decisions.

“We came out the worst end out of the penalty count even though at times it looked like we had the dominant scrum, we have to take those decisions away from the officials and keep them in our own hands,” admitted Foley.

Although last Friday’s 21-10 victory represented a good overall performance for the Munster squad, there were a number of players whose individual displays stood out to the head coach.

“It was great to have James Cronin back, I thought he was a force up front. Duncan Williams created an awful lot in and around the base and had a good connection with Keats (Ian Keatley).

“Ivan Dineen stood up at 12 and put in a very physical performance for us. I thought Felix Jones, as captain, led the team well and gave a very solid performance out the back.”

Following on from the announcement that hooker Eusebio Guinazu will join the province on a short-term four month contract, it has been confirmed that the Argentinian has secured a work permit and is currently making final travel arrangements. However, Guinazu will not be available for selection against Zebre this Friday.

There were no serious injury concerns from the Treviso game and Munster are also boosted by the news that the final group of returning internationals remain on course to line out this weekend.

Paul O’Connell (pictured training today), David Kilcoyne and Conor Murray are all in contention to play in the Zebre match at Thomond Park, as is JJ Hanrahan who won the Nations Cup with Emerging Ireland in the summer.

On the injury front, centre Cian Bohane underwent a successful surgery on Saturday after sustaining a knee injury in pre-season action against London Irish. The injury will keep the Corkman sidelined for the next six to nine months.

Niall Scannell continues to rehab a fractured wrist picked up during pre-season, with fellow hooker Damien Varley progressing well with his foot injury.

Munster squad captain Peter O’Mahony is making good progress and has resumed some light contact, while wingers Keith Earls, Luke O’Dea and Gerhard van den Heever (all knee) have progressed to running in training.