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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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David Wallace: Munster to deepen Perpignan's dented confidence

The return of Donnacha Ryan to the starting line-up boosts the province’s hopes of a back-to-back win.

Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony are key to Munster's chances in France.
Paul O'Connell and Peter O'Mahony are key to Munster's chances in France.

THE STYLE IN which Leinster beat Northampton at the weekend took some gloss off Munster’s win over Perpignan but the real test arrives today.

They were right not to get too ahead of themselves after the game. I’d agree with Peter O’Mahony when he says the Munster lads will not be falling in love with themselves. Still, they got over for five tries, secured the bonus point early and the pack looked good.

You might be worried, after such a comfortable win, that complacency might creep in but the loss away to Edinburgh has swept all that aside. The must-win mentality remains in place.

James Hook is missing from today’s game but he missed a few kicks and did not have his best game last week. The return of Lifeimi Mafi will be a big boost for them. Everyone that played with him at Munster knows just what he can do. He will be going out looking to have a big game. He’s a fantastic player; a great mover and runner. He was never the biggest guy in the world but he possesses genuine strength.

imageMafi and I get instructions at a Munster training session in 2012. INPHO/Billy Stickland

Munster have a rich history of games against Perpignan and the atmosphere should be quite imposing. The important thing is taking it to them right from the start and trying to silence the crowd. If they can take that bit of French confidence that was dented last week and deepen it further, Perpignan may not bounce back at all.

Donncha O’Callaghan played well in the 36-8 win at Thomond Park last Sunday but the return of Donnacha Ryan to the second row is great. He has been on fire over the last couple of seasons.

It’s no bad thing that Donners is dropping to the bench as he should make an impact from there in the second-half. It is fantastic to see Tommy O’Donnell named with the replacements too. He was a slow burner but over the past two seasons he started really, really performing. He was immense last season and was Munster’s star player until he picked up an injury near the end.

Tommy’s speed and power has really been utilised and it is great to see him coming back so well after surgery on his knee. From what I hear, he seems to be really motoring in training and did well with the ‘A’ team recently.

Injuries seem to be on Munster’s side at the moment despite the long-term losses of Simon Zebo and Stephen Archer. Donncha and Tommy are back now and they’ve had the successful return of Keith Earls and, for a while longer, Felix Jones.

The addition of Robin Copeland is a bit of a coup. He’s a well-respected back-row player and you can never have too many of them as it means lads are looking over their shoulders. He arrives next season but, for now, Munster should have enough if they can make that positive start.

They have a habit of getting the wins at the moment. It may not be the prettiest but, not for the first time in recent years, it should see them through.

imageDavid Wallace runs Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe at the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick. You can follow the latest goings on at the shop here or on Twitter @MrSimmsCrescent

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About the author:

David Wallace  / Former Munster and Ireland flanker.

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