Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Leinster v Munster at the RDS a different story to this time last year

Leo Cullen’s side are coming off a European defeat, while Munster now have Joey Carbery in their ranks.

A YEAR IS a long time in rugby.

This weekend’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final between Leinster and Munster at the RDS, an exact repeat of last season’s contest on the same weekend, illustrates as much.

Back then, Joey Carbery was starting at fullback for Leinster.

Billy Holland and Joey Carbery Carbery was at 15 for Leinster this time last year. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On Saturday, the 23-year-old is set to return from a hamstring injury to wear Munster’s number 10 shirt.

Munster scored two tries a year ago, the first dotted down by Keith Earls but teed up wonderfully by Simon Zebo, whose dancing feet and overhead pass allowed him to provide the assist.

Gerbrandt Grobler scored Munster’s second try, a late consolation effort. Neither Grobler or Zebo are Munster players any longer.

In the starting Leinster team that day were Jordi Murphy and Isa Nacewa, two players who have been missed since leaving the province last summer.

The major difference for Leinster this time around is that they are not European champions. Last year, they bounced into the clash with Munster off the back of beating Racing 92 in the Champions Cup final in Bilbao but this week has been about dealing with the disappointment of missing out against Saracens.

But Munster captain Peter O’Mahony has no doubt that Leo Cullen’s side will react well as they now look to defend their Pro14 title.

“I know a lot of the Leinster guys personally,” said O’Mahony. “They are winners more than anything else. They don’t like losing. They are very proud of their club and country and they want to win for both.

“I have had first-hand experience with a lot of these guys. They will certainly be hurting. They will use that as motivation this week. They’re successful people and a successful club, and they want to win silverware, like we do. We will be expecting a massive performance from them.”

While O’Mahony said last season’s 16-15 loss to Leinster at the RDS was reviewed at the time and that they have moved on since, he recalls some of the key lessons from that narrow defeat.

Peter O'Mahony Munster came up short last year at the RDS. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“We certainly played well at times. A yellow card doesn’t help, Jean Kleyn. I think your discipline needs to be very good. You need to keep 15 guys on the pitch to be in with a shot.

“All of a sudden we were behind, and we played some good rugby. So hopefully we can start the game well and play some good rugby from the off, rather than us having to go behind and chase to play good rugby.”

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Leinster scored a wonderful try through Jack Conan that day, with James Lowe’s offload sending him over the whitewash, and Cullen’s team will believe that their best performance of this season is still ahead of them.

From Munster’s point of view, the feeling is very much the same.

“I think we’ve put parts of our game together at different times of the season,” said O’Mahony. “I don’t think we’ve put them all together at once. It’s a difficult thing to do, as well, particularly when you’re playing against teams as good as Leinster.

“But I think it takes you putting your best aspects together and for the stars to align a little bit with regard to, you know, set-piece, first-phase strike, defence, physicality.

“All these things have got to come off and that’s what you’re aiming to do every week. We haven’t quite done it, we’ve got close at times, but it’s going to take probably that little bit more this week.”

Of course, more change is on the way for Munster regardless of what happens this weekend, with assistant coaches Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery departing this summer as Johann van Graan’s search for three new coaches continues.

O’Mahony rejected the notion that last week’s confirmation of Jones and Flannery leaving has had an impact on Munster’s preparation for Leinster.

Peter O'Mahony after the game O'Mahony and Munster are desperate for a trophy. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“The guys have put it out there for us but the first thing they have said is how big this week is and how focused they are and we are on getting a performance in this week,” said O’Mahony.

“I could sit here and talk about how good these guys have been to the club, not just coaching and playing wise, for a long time. And we will do afterwards. But they know and we know we have got a big week of training ahead of us and hopefully another one after it.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be firmly focused and on point with everything they do this week and that we’ll all be working in the same direction to get this week as right as possible.”

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

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel