With Munster winning every competitive game during the international window, and playing some excellent rugby in the process, their director of rugby Rassie Erasmus now has some tough selection choices to make as all internationals return to the provincial fold for Saturday’s European clash.
With Peter O’Mahony and Donnacha Ryan featuring in last Friday’s win over Glasgow Warriors, the last remaining returnees – Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls – are all available for selection this weekend, leaving Rassie Erasmus with much to ponder, especially in the back-three where Ronan O’Mahony, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway have impressed in recent weeks.
“It is a headache for a coach but for a squad it’s good. For the players it’s good because we have to manage their game-time and make sure everybody peaks at the right time,” said Erasmus.
“There are one or two guys coming back from injury that will be difficult to manage to get them the right amount of game time – a few of them may play with the ‘A’ side (away to Rotherham Titans) this weekend. In some positions we are doing great and are actually overstocked and in other positions we are one injury away from being really thin. We have a pretty solid squad but we know that one training session can change that, but hopefully it stays the same.”
Involvement in both the Champions Cup and British & Irish Cup sees 45 players required for competitive action this week. Just as well then that, barring a couple of injuries, the extended Munster squad is in good stead as it heads into a crucial part of the season, one that begins with old rivals Leicester Tigers at 3.15pm in Thomond Park on Saturday.
“Playing against Leicester, certainly everybody knows they beat us away and at home last year so they will be confident of beating us again. After studying them, they are tactically really smart and physically they are always really up for it so it’s a massive challenge.
“Every week there always seems to be a history with the opposition so I’m learning quickly about that. It’s another big one with a lot of history and interesting results and one-on-one battles against each other, so I will be learning again this weekend.”
With well over 23,000 tickets now sold, Erasmus and his men are looking forward to more rapturous support from the stands and terraces of Thomond Park come kick-off on Saturday afternoon.
The South African added: “It’s great. The people want to see effort and honour and if the results come with that then it’s great but as long as you really show the effort and honour while playing and really wear that jersey with pride and give everything.
“I think the fans here are knowledgeable enough to understand when it was a good win, when it was a lucky win and when it was a good effort. We just want to make them proud with the effort we put out there.”
With Stand tickets now sold out, the last remaining Terrace tickets can be bought online here or from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park – tel: 061 421103. All Hospitality for this game is now sold out.