We are back!
Not only is rugby back in this part of the world but we start with the interpro’s, we start with the biggest interpro. Leinster v Munster kicks off on Saturday at 19:35.
Not only are we starting with the biggest game, but we are starting with both teams sending clear messages that this is going to be a big one! Massive selections made by both sides!
The phrase GIDDY UP! Springs to mind.
Going in we wondered would Leinster methodically bring players back ahead of the Saracens quarter final on the 19th September or would they start big. With the break that Covid brought, the worry was that some players would struggle to get to match intensity and to bring people back in pods that would mean those starters would bring that intensity to training and spread it through the camp without the possibility of injury after the break. Not sure if I explained that correctly, but you get my point.
The answer is, we go big from day 1. Players have been rested, trained and tested and the time is right for the Leinster team to come back in force. Hoping to start as they left off, not easy at all, considering there will be ring rust for both teams. But if Leinster can hit the ground running, play as they did pre Covid, it will be a massive message sent to other teams. This is needed considering that Saracens put in a good shift in a losing effort last weekend.
As for Munster, this is a selection to end the season with a bang. And with that midfield of Farrell and De Allende and Snyman coming into the squad. This is their shot to show they want to be part of Munster, buying into the ethos is very important for that red jersey. For every Stander and Howlett there has been a Groblaar and Rassie. 1 was a bad signing and 1 walked out to coach his national side. The 2 new South African players can put a stamp on this game. Farrell is also a class player; he was starting to show real passing skill that adds even more danger to his game aside from the obvious physical traits he has. The midfield battle on Saturday will be great to watch.
Ryan Baird comes in beside then man that is Fardy in the Leinster second row, to face up against Billy Holland and Snyman, another mouthwatering battle. Both teams need their leaders to step up and Fardy has a big job with the skilled newbie Baird beside him. In the red jersey, they need their leaders to step up, some new players looking to leadership roles that may begin on Saturday. Expectations are high of the world cup winners, will they step up and forward, or will they be slow to stand up and fight?
JJ sits in beside a newly ripped and strong looking Conor Murray in red. Unfortunately, for Munster they can’t hang on to a 10. Whether its injury or retirement if they hadn’t bad luck they would have no luck in the 10 shirt. JJ has time now to work his way into the shirt, Murray will hit the ground running. The online abuse he has been getting for the 12 months pre Covid was far far too much. I expect a world-class performance from him. Which brings us to Luke McGrath and Sexton in blue. Both are leaders, both are world class and both have things to prove. As captain, Sexton will lead from the front, and with the years winding down (slowly) every performance will be played as if it is his last. Another bog battle!
The front rows have a big day in store too. In blue, we have Healy, Kelleher and Porter. In red, we have Archer, Scannell and Cronin. This is MASSIVE! Kelleher deserves his big game start, as does Porter (Furlong injured?). The red front row has brick wall written all over it. The Healy experience and footwork may be the weapon to use to find a few inches of space in close.
At the end of the day, this is beyond exciting. 2 strong teams who are both playing for either silverware or momentum. Both of those things are massively important.
May we all behave, may the players and staff stay safe and may the best team win.
Because, when you come at the kings, best not miss