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Llanelli Visit Forces Focus Switch

21st September 2007 By Munster Rugby

While Munster coach has expressed his satisfaction with the way preparation have gone so far he is also aware that Saturday’s clash with Llanelli Scarlets (5.30) is a step up from previous games.

While Munster coach has expressed his satisfaction with the way preparation have gone so far he is also aware that Saturday’s clash with Llanelli Scarlets (5.30) is a step up from previous games.

"We have to be aware of the difference in physicality of the pre-season games to the competitive ones. Consider then we are going in against a side that has two competitive matches under their belt already.

"But having said that the players have trained really hard. Pre-season has gone well. The trip to the States went well both on and off the field and that was important. Then to get the better of a side like Saracens – maybe we did them some favours, they beat Wasps the following week – was very important in terms of morale and building on that win over the Eagles.

"But then it’s important we don’t to do what I’d call a France on it. That is, have a good pre-season and then not turn up on the day, on Saturday night."

For this opening Magners League game, Kidney includes eight newcomers in his match day squad but would be confident they will blend in seamlessly. "That was the importance of the pre-season, the number of games we had gave newcomers the chance to get two three games under their belt as in the case of Niall Ronan for example. " he explains.
"It always takes a while to adapt. You can never rush it too much. Players will adapt over a period of time and the early signs are they’ve settled right in.

"But we’ve certainly been encouraged by their performances to date and that’s why most of them are playing on Saturday.

Munster supporters are very familiar with Saturday’s west Wales opponents with perhaps the defeat in the Heineken Cup still fresh in their minds but that will not act as a motivational factor on Saturday in Kidney’s opinion, "No I don’t believe so. We’re going to be playing them four times this season anyway.

"The two sides are very similar in their backgrounds and so on. No, they got the better of us that time, and you shake their hand and move on and just get ready for this game.

"We have a lot of different personnel playing and so that match means little to them. This is all about the guys who are getting the opportunity Saturday night."

And with players on World Cup duty, opportunity knocks for those who don the Munster red in the coming weeks ?

"Over the course of the season guys get, on average, 12-14 opportunities and those who are selected now know these are their opportunities and they are certainly making the most of it in the early season games. They’ve gone about their preparation in the same way as if it was any sort of a match. No differentiation in (how we prepare) whether it be pre-season Magners League or Heineken Cup match If we prepare for them all the same that’s a good sign. It’s what all good sides do. The opportunity is on the day not the competition or what sort of match it is. So the focus for everyone night now is on Saturday.

"Look, we’re very fortunate with the representation we have with Ireland and we’d be very proud that we’re contributing 12 of the 30 to the Ireland squad. I think Ospreys and ourselves contribute most to the national side.

We wouldn’t want it any other way. But yes, that opens more and more opportunities for guys coming through. Certainly where we want to keep Munster in terms of Magners League and European rugby is giving fellas the opportunity to come through and the early signs are they’re starting to take it.

Over 12 months ago we knew that going into World Cup year we could have a number of fellas on duty. We took on board the lesson that was learned from four years ago (previous World Cup) ie not to be starting the season completely afresh.

"So this time last year we were starting to give a lot of the younger lads games, and now some of them have 10, 12, 15 caps under their belt. And they’re not as overawed as they might have been last year. Hopefully we can use that this time to good effect to finish out some games.

"In some of the games last year we were within a score with ten minutes to go and I think it was just lack of experience that went against us.

Nor will Kidney entertain much discussion about absent players and what effect that has on the squad.

"There’s loads of motivation for the players here now. They have their toe in the door. The chance is there for them to step in.

"What we want to do is keep Munster to the forefront of club rugby I certainly believe we can do that with the players we have now. As I said training has been really exciting because they’ve (newcomers) brought a complete freshness and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go on Saturday."

Munster: S Payne; I Dowling, K Lewis, R Tipoki, A Horgan; P Warwick, T O’Leary; F Pucciariello, D Fogarty, T Buckley; M Melbourne, M O’Driscoll, B Holland, N Ronan, A Foley capt
Replacements: Daragh Hurley, S Cronin, T O’Donnell, J Coughlan, G Hurley, J Manning, L Mafi.

Scarlets: Morgan Stoddart; Garan Evans, Regan King, Gavin Evans, Matthew Watkins; Rhys Prietland, Gavin Cattle; Iestyn Thomas, James Hayter, Bruce Douglas; Vernon Cooper, Adam Eustace; Dafydd Jones, James Bater (capt), Nathan Thomas.
Replacements: Ben Broster, Ken Owens, Lou Reed, Johnathan Edwards, Liam Davies, Daniel Evans, Jon Davies

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