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Van Graan Looks Ahead To Zebre Test

7th February 2018 By The Editor

Johann van Graan at this week's press conference in Limerick

Johann van Graan is set for his 10th game as Munster Head Coach on Saturday night as Zebre visit Thomond Park in the Guinness PRO14.

Johann van Graan is set for his 10th game as Munster Head Coach on Saturday night as Zebre visit Thomond Park in the Guinness PRO14.

The Italian side were the opposition for van Graan’s first game at the province in late November and it has been a whirlwind period since with nine consecutive matches before the recent two-week break.

In that time, Munster have qualified for a record 17th Champions Cup quarter-final, at home against Toulon in March and remain in the top two of the Guinness PRO14’s Conference A.

“I’m very glad that it’s finished!” said van Graan as he reflected on a frantic first nine weeks in charge. “We came through it well, sitting pretty well in PRO14 in second spot and having a home quarter-final against Toulon. We, as coaches, had an in-depth look at our game. A lot of errors that we want to improve – there is never a finish line. We want to improve every single week and we are looking to build on our current plan.

“We have a very excited squad, we had a very good week of training last week, and all of the guys in the squad are looking forward to the next block of four games. We had a two week break from games, and we are obviously fine-tuning our plan, but its game week again and we are looking forward to it.

“It was my first game when I arrived in Ireland – the away game to Zebre. If you just look at Italian rugby, they haven’t quite got the results but they’re playing some good rugby. We’ve had a good look at them, their continuity game, they attack from all parts of the field, so defensively we will have to be at our best to keep them out.”

The province were handed a welcome boost in the two-week break as Sammy Arnold, Darren O’Shea, Conor Oliver and Dan Goggin all signed two-year contracts that will see them remain at Munster until June 2020.

“It’s fantastic to have them signed up,” said van Graan. “Dan has been unbelievable in training and really impressed me – a big, strong guy. It looks like he’s come back stronger. I’m very glad for Sammy to be part of our set up. Darren O’Shea – as a line out caller he is going to be very important to Munster in the coming years. Conor Oliver has played one game since I’ve been here [due to injury] and he was Man of the Match against Connacht so I’m really glad that these guys have committed to Munster.”

Next game

Guinness PRO14: Munster v Zebre, Thomond Park, Sat. 10 Feb, 7.35pm; Tickets available online, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park, or by calling 061 421103. Tickets from just €7 with Family packs (two adults and two children) available for just €40.

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