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Beirne and Conway take 'positive step' as Munster hope to have key men available for Ulster clash

Both players are hoping to feature in Friday’s URC’s quarter-final in Belfast.

Munster's Tadhg Beirne.
Munster's Tadhg Beirne.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

MUNSTER ARE HOPING to have both Tadhg Beirne and Andrew Conway available for Friday’s United Rugby Championship quarter-final clash with Ulster in Belfast.

Beirne has been out of action with a thigh injury since the Six Nations and is set to step up his training load this week, while Conway suffered a knee aggravation in the URC defeat to Leinster on 21 May.

Both players will be assessed later in week ahead of a massive game at the Kingspan Stadium.

“We just got off the training park and they completed the full session,” said Munster attack coach, Stephen Larkham.

“It was a positive step for both of them. We have tomorrow off and we’ll train on Wednesday, so we’ll make a decision after Wednesday for those two.

Alex Kendellen is also due to complete his return to play protocols ahead of the game as Munster look to recover from a difficult couple of weeks.

Earlier this month the province exited the Champions Cup with a heartbreaking penalty-shootout defeat to Toulouse, while their last outing saw them lose out on a home URC quarter-final following defeat to a heavily-rotated Leinster side.

“It certainly has been tough, particularly the Toulouse loss,” Larkham said.

“That was a tough week. We gave the boys the week off and we came back in the following week for the prep for Leinster but it was tough. 

“There was a fair emotional toll on the players, we’d out a fair bit into that game, we’d be rolling really well into that game. Our preparation was good, we actually played some pretty good rugby as well. It was quite disappointing, it was hard to get over that but we’ve had four weeks since then really.

“We are sort of back into the full swing of things this week. Mentally we have recovered but it has been tough.”

Munster now need to win in Belfast in order to keep their hopes of ending their season with some silverware alive.

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Johann van Graan’s side left the Kingspan Stadium with a 24-17 when the teams met last month, but Larkham is expecting a much sterner test this around – that regular season game coming on the back of Ulster’s own European exit to Toulouse.

“Our focus against Ulster is very similar to the last time we played against them,” Larkham added.

“They’ve got a very good set-piece, both scrum and maul, particularly maul, we are very conscious of that. They are very good at the breakdown, they’ve got a really good tackle-completion percentage, best in the competition so they are very good defensively. They’ve got a very good kicking game as well.

“It comes down to preparation. We’ve had a couple of good meetings around our mindset. We addressed it going into that Leinster week, we didn’t play the way we wanted. We’ve reviewed that now and we’re putting everything behind us and making sure our prep is as good as can be for this week.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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