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'At least Leinster used some of our tactics in that game, so that's brilliant to see'

Johann van Graan says Munster will always look to tailor their game plans to specific opposition.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

MUNSTER BOSS JOHANN van Graan has fired back at Leinster’s criticism of his team’s tactical approach in last season’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final as the two provinces get set to meet again this weekend.

The southern province kicked 36 times during that defeat to Leinster – who kicked 33 times – last September.

Leinster boss Leo Cullen called it a “brutal” game at the time and said that “all they [Munster] want to do is box kick,” while assistant coach Felipe Contepomi later stressed that Leinster didn’t want to get drawn into a “contestable box-kicks fest.”

However, van Graan has mischievously stressed that Leinster have been relying on kick-heavy tactics at times in recent months too.

“I think you take every game and you do what’s necessary to win,” said van Graan today when asked if Leinster’s criticism had stung.

“I’m glad that in the Ulster game two weeks ago, at least they [Leinster] used some of our tactics in that game as well, so that’s brilliant to see.”

With weather conditions set to be demanding on Saturday evening as the two provinces prepare themselves for their latest Pro14 battle, it looks likely that kicking will be key again.

“I’m not a weather expert but it looks like it could be rainy and cold and snowy on Saturday evening so that will definitely play its part,” said van Graan.

“It comes down to small moments and guys taking their opportunities. We didn’t take our opportunities in the semi-final and they did.”

The Munster boss is excited about the opportunity to take on the reigning champions, with this game having initially been set for St Stephen’s Day before being postponed and then rescheduled following the suspension of the Heineken Champions Cup.

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“We have played nine games in the Pro14 and won eight, and so have Leinster,” said van Graan. “They are definitely one of the form sides of the competition and of the last three years.

“They have played 11 games across all competitions this season and have 11 bonus points, so they are such a quality outfit. We know it and they know it.

“We’re looking to improve our game every week and we believe we’ve done some nice things this season. We had some convincing victories, we had some come-from-behind victories, we had to grind out some victories. Munster-Leinster games are always special.

“We’ll play in Thomond Park against a special club in Leinster, they’re currently the best and you always want to play against the best.”

In a big boost, Munster looked likely to have Dave Kilcoyne, Jack O’Donoghue, Mike Haley, Jean Kleyn fit again after recent injury issues. 

“All four trained yesterday,” said van Graan. “If they come through today and Thursday’s training, we believe that all four will be available for selection and ready to go on Saturday if selected.”

Originally published at 14.18

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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