Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Brian O'Driscoll shares a joke with Ian Madigan at Leinster's training session.
# point to prove
Munster's meagre Six Nations representation not Leinster's problem
Blues forwards coach Jono Gibbes is not buying attempts to ramp up Saturday’s interpro as a grudge match for overlooked players.

LEINSTER FORWARDS COACH Jono Gibbes does not believe Saturday’s league clash with Munster needs any more hype despite Rob Penney joking his team will be ‘facing the six Nations champions’.

The Kiwi made the quip last week after Ireland, with just three Munster players involved, clinched the Six Nations title in Paris. Leinster had 15 players involved in the matchday 23, most of who should be available for selection for the top two RaboDirect Pro12 encounter at the Aviva stadium.

Asked if Penney’s comments had added extra spice to the interpro clash, Gibbes said, “I don’t buy it really. You have two top teams, two points separating them in the league with not many games left, in front of a sell-out crowd and they happen to be the two biggest rivals in Ireland, I think that is the story right there.”

“Whatever,” he continued, “there is a June tour, players want to push for international honours; they have to be in a team playing in the big games and the knockout stages. We want to promote as many of our players as we can into that international picture. We need to win games like this on Saturday and it’s pretty difficult to do against these guys as round five [a 19-15 loss at Thomond Park] has shown.”

Jono Gibbes 24/3/2014 Donall Farmer / INPHO Jono Gibbes wants to move the focus away from who was, or was not, selected for the Six Nations. Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Gibbes, who will depart for a job with Clermont Auvergne in the summer, has been involved in 11 interprovincial games against Munster since his arrival at Leinster in 2009. The Blues hold the edge in clashes over the past five seasons [eight wins, three defeats] but Gibbes feels Penney’s side has been consistently strong since the start of the season.

He said, “There is always a real level to those games; a real intensity. The way they approach the game physically, they know slowing our tempo down is a big thing. We know what they are going to do, it’s just who can impose themselves in the best way will get the advantage.

“We are excited about playing in the Aviva [in front of a] massive crowd and Munster have only lost three games. I’d say they will definitely come to Dublin positive, confident in their own abilities.

“Whatever has happened in the Six Nations is behind us,” he said, “and the real story is Munster versus Leinster at the Aviva.” A valiant effort from Gibbes but it remains to be seen how the next five days will play out.

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