Shane Daly, Rory Scannell and Mike Haley in training at UL last week. James Crombie/INPHO
Final Countdown

Munster striving to have 'immaculate' basics against Leinster side with 'no weakness'

Johann van Graan is banking on Munster’ s fundamentals giving them an edge in Saturday’s Pro14 final.

JOHANN VAN GRAAN wasn’t in a mood to give much away as he took on press duties ahead of Saturday’s Pro14 final against Leinster (kick-off 5pm, eir Sport).

The Munster head coach wouldn’t be drawn on how much his first final in charge of the southern province mean to him personally. Nor how he intends to use his international contingent -  though, as they face the the tightest of seven-day turnarounds as they switch focus from international to inter-pro, it may well be too early to tell.

Perhaps inspired by a few dead-batted answers, Van Graan is asked if he is concealing any tricks up his sleeve, a key to breaking a losing run against Leinster and near-decade-long wait for a trophy in Thomond Park.

“I don’t think finals are about trick plays,” says the former Springbok forwards coach.

“Every team has something up their sleeve on both sides of the ball, but it’s about doing your basics well.

Finals are strange things. It’s about the team that handles the pressure the most. So we’ll go in with our basic plan and execute that as well as we can and then adapt on the day.

“Whether that’s to the opponents, the weather, the referee or the scoreboard. We’ll be looking to execute our basics exceptionally well and then adapt on the day.”

The adaptation of Munster’s attack has been particularly eye-catching of late and while he highlights the importance of the basics against a ‘well-oiled machine’ of a Leinster side with ‘no weaknesses,’ Van Graan also notes some of the more free-flowing scores in Munster’s highlight reel. Mike Haley, Shane Daly and Ben Healy finishes represent the fruits of labour from a coaching ticket who have had time and space to make their mark.

“We said we need to get better in all areas, that’s what you look for in a season and I believe we have. Now it’s about producing on a day that matters most, that’s in a final.

“We’re coming up against possibly the best team in Europe, certainly in the Pro14 over the last few seasons and they’re playing at their home ground. We’re under no illusions we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.

“It’s a great challenge in front of us, we believe we’v improved through the season and  that will be put to the test on Saturday afternoon.”

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