Denis Hurley spoke to www.MunsterRugby.ie this week about his outings at inside centre, the threat the Ospreys will pose on Saturday and settling into head coach Anthony Foley’s game-plan for the current season.
Primarily known as a winger or full-back in the red of Munster, Denis Hurley has embraced the challenge of a new position in the province’s back-line – inside centre.
“From my side, I have played a number of positions, and I am now learning a new trade playing in the centre. That has rejuvenated me, learning new skills,” admitted Hurley.
“That’s an enjoyable part of the game and it keeps me motivated. You want to prove to yourself and other people that you can play competitively in these positions.”
Last weekend against Zebre the Corkman lined out alongside Andrew Smith for the first time, forming Munster’s centre pairing in their 31-5 bonus point victory at Thomond Park.
“Last week was my first game of the season, Andrew has had a couple so far. He has shown he is a capable ball player and around the park he is very talkative and gives a lot of talk on the field. He is a natural runner. He offers a lot.
“When you have a player outside you like that you know you can give a ball to them and with only a little bit of space they can do damage. We had a couple of opportunities against Zebre to put some good phases together and we scored some good tries. It was really enjoyable on that front.”
While acknowledging that the Ospreys are a threat across the board – up front, out wide and in defence – Hurley believes Munster need to stick to their guns and impose their game on the current GUINNESS PRO12 leaders.
“This weekend against the Ospreys we know it’s going to be a lot harder with the type of game-plan in defence they throw up against you. The space will be a lot more squeezed so it will be a tighter game.
“There was a big change in them last year. They were struggling with a few results, made a few changes, and by the end of the season they were a top performing outfit. The type of game they play is very attractive and very effective which will keep our hands full this weekend.
“They offer a lot of different factors to their game – their kicking game is very good, as is their counter attack. There’s a lot of points we have to be mindful of, but at the same time we have to go out and play our game of rugby and get points on the board.”
Three league games in and Hurley and Munster alike are starting to settle into Anthony Foley’s game-plan.
“I think what let us down in the first couple of games was handling errors – things that are individual – a bit of concentration at times.
“Once you take those out of the game you can really get the ball rolling, and put teams under pressure once you get in behind them. That’s the kind of game-plan we want to be playing,” added the 30-year-old.