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'This is a team who is absolutely capable of winning the Heineken Cup'

Speaking on the latest episode of Heineken Rugby Weekly, Andy Dunne says he has been convinced that Johann van Graan’s side can be European champions.

Updated Jan 17th 2019, 8:00 PM

MUNSTER HAVE DESERVEDLY been attracting praise in the wake of their bonus-point win away to Gloucester in the Heineken Champions Cup last weekend. 

Johann van Graan’s side can secure a quarter-final place with a win against Exeter at Thomond Park on Saturday and though the English team were also impressive against Castres last time out, Munster now have exciting momentum behind them.

Joey Carbery celebrates scoring his second try with Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell Munster were in superb form last weekend in Gloucester. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Joey Carbery showing his creative class behind a dominant Munster pack in Kingsholm, the southern province marked themselves out as European contenders.

Indeed, speaking on this week’s Heineken Rugby Weekly, Andy Dunne said the Munster performance last weekend convinced him that van Graan’s men are good enough to win the competition outright: 

“Every facet of Munster’s game was at a high level – the scrum, the lineout, the maul, competition at the breakdown, their passing, their box-kicking. Every part of their game that’s simple and requires execution was done with excellence.

“That’s often the apparent mystery around great sides like the All Blacks, they just consistently do it and eventually, at some point, the weaker side will creak, give way and the tiredness takes over and suddenly the floodgates open.

“That was very indicative of what happened with Munster. 20 or 25 minutes of close-quarters, tit-for-tat stuff and not much to separate the sides but suddenly there was a big margin by 80 minutes.

“It’s the first time, in my mind, I’ve watched Munster in the last two to three years where I just sat back and went, ‘This is a team who is absolutely capable of winning the Heineken Cup outright.’

“Whether it’s by fortune or design, the combinations seem to be coming together brilliantly. If you look at Murray, Carbery, Scannell, Farrell, a multitude of choices in the back three and, obviously, Earls is going to be involved in there – a lot of experience. 

“Up front, I spoke to Peter Coyle, ex-Leinster who is my scrum Jedi, and he’s talking about how fearsomely strong their scrum looks. Although they might not have the glitz and glamour of a Tadhg Furlong, they’re really good in the scrum, which is really what their job is.

“They’ve added in the likes of Tadhg Beirne, they’ve got the leadership of guys who have been around the group for a long period – the Billy Hollands, the unsung heroes – and they seem to have this wonderful mix through that side that suggests to me that they could quite well be champions this year.”

Elsewhere on this week’s episode of Heineken Rugby Weekly, Andy, Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella discussed the big calls in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the Six Nations, as well as an interesting move for Munster’s Ian Keatley to Italy.

There was a love-in for Carbery’s left-footed grubber kick against Gloucester, chat about the latest England squad and, with another big European weekend ahead, lots of discussion about Connacht, Ulster and Leinster.

For all of that and more, check out this week’s Heineken Rugby Weekly on iTunes, Soundcloud or wherever you get your podcasts, and please send your questions and thoughts for next week’s episode to heinekenrugbyweekly@the42.ie.


Subscribe to our new podcast, Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42, here:

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