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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018

'It's the 1st time I've been in his house': Munster squad learning to love centralised training

Some players have made a permanent move to live in Limerick and those who haven’t are staying overnight during training weeks.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER SECOND ROW Billy Holland says the small benefits of centralised training are already being felt.

In the past, the southern province have famously split their training bases between Limerick and Cork, with players making the two-hour journey in one direction or the other on the days when the squad came together as a whole.

“Some people use the Cork-Limerick split as an excuse,” says Holland, shouldering a part of captain Peter O’Mahony’s media duties at today’s Pro12 launch in the Aviva Stadium.

“But it can’t be an excuse because over the years Munster have won two European Cups with that setup.”

That said, the Corkman is already feeling the plus side of the move.

“We’re moving into our one centre in the next few weeks, but we’ve all been training in Limerick for the first time ever which has been really good. Because, not only do you get more face-time with the coaches, (but also) things like: Dave Foley had myself and a few of the Cork lads over for a barbecue.

I’ve played with Dave Foley for years and it’s the first time I’ve ever been in his house!

“Things like that are really important for squad morale and getting to know lads better.

“Just as the game has progressed and become more professional, it’s more important for us to spend more time together like every other club.”

It’s a move that takes an effort from all sides though, and Holland points out that it’s not always a matter of just pointing a player to their new place of work and letting them get on with it.

“There’s huge commitment: 12 lads have moved from Cork to Limerick with their families. Old fellas, young fellas… Tomas O’Leary has moved his wife and child up.

“There’s a few lads who are remaining in Cork, but spend a few nights a week in Limerick. They’ve kids, families and wives with jobs in Cork. It’s been a really positive step for Munster Rugby.”

Launch of the 2016/17 Guinness PRO12 Season Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus is another big reason to be positive about Munster ahead of the new term. And while the South African influence will put a fresh spin on the attack and defensive structures, Holland and the pack will be building on familiar foundations.

“So between that (centralised training) and Rassie and Jacques (Nienaber) coming on board and Felix (Jones) coming back in, there’s been a really good buzz around the place which has been really exciting.

“We’re looking forward to getting stuck into the games. We played Zebre the other night in horrendous conditions, it wasn’t the most enjoyable of pre-season games but we’re all looking forward to getting stuck in to the season.”

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Sean Farrell

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