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Good Start According to Darbyshire

29th August 2007 By Munster Rugby

It was a contented if weary Munster squad that arrived back in Shannon in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a five-day trip to Chicago.

It was a contented if weary Munster squad that arrived back in Shannon in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a five-day trip to Chicago.

Victory against the USA Eagles provides the perfect start to the season and one aspect that may have surprised onlookers was the fitness levels displayed in the 26 degrees Celsius heat of Toyota Park. However one person who wasn’t at all surprised was Paul Darbyshire in his first season as Munster’s Head of Fitness & Conditioning.

"No I can’t say I was really. They’ve worked hard in the past 12 weeks of pre-season and reaped the benefits of that hard work on Sunday. The first game is always the toughest one, add to that the conditions – the heat and humidity and the fact that we’re on the road as well doesn’t make it any easier."

"I was very pleased the way the guys applied themselves in very trying conditions. It was a good test of their character and they came through. You can train as hard as you want in pre-season but the games bring your fitness to another level."

"The Americans enjoy the physical side, nothing wrong with that. They were a big side particularly up front. When the teams were lined up for the national anthem I remember thinking how much bigger and stronger the Americans looked in comparison to ours. So it was a measure of the character of our lads the way they stood up to them. Then in the final fifteen minutes they were too strong and too fit for the Americans."

The game itself was structured to allow water carriers on at the end of the first and third quarters. "Well the only way you can cope with the sort of temperatures is to hydrate the guys as much as possible use the shade that was available get cold towels onto them at half-time. Some of the lads would have lost 4 kilos in the course of the game and it will take 24 hours before they can regain that."

"But it was a very encouraging start. It wouldn’t be right to pick out anyone in particular.

Everyone played well, worked for each other in very difficult conditions."

Next up for Munster and Darbyshire is Alan Gaffney’s Saracens the weekend after next and the former Wigan Warrior believes his charges will face an even tougher task.

"No question. The next one against Saracens will be tougher still in terms of the quality of the opposition we’re facing. The Americans are mostly amateur, all with day jobs while next time we’ll be facing a fully professional outfit and we can expect another tough game."

"But bottom line is we’ve travelled a long way, come away with a win and as I already said they’ve reaped the benefits fo their hard work."

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