A big challenge awaits at the RDS as old rivals collide

Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan says that his side face a big challenge against Leinster this weekend as they look for their first away win against their rivals since 2014.

Any Munster v Leinster clash comes with great anticipation and the one at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday is no different as both sides face massive games in the coming weeks. The Champions Cup begins next weekend but despite the looming trip to Exeter Chiefs on the horizon, van Graan insists that all his focus is on Leinster.

“This week it’s all about Leinster. It’s a big challenge for us. We went up to the RDS at the end of last season and came up just short. It’s a game that we are looking forward to very much. They are very good. They have test players all across the board, depth, very balanced game plan, I think there kicking game is second to none and they pin you in your half and wait for you to make mistakes.

“I was just looking at their previous few games and teams attack them in different ways. With the ball. Without the ball. In the air. On the ground. They just seem to handle it. For us, it’s about putting pressure onto them. It will be a tough task for us.”

Van Graan also admits that the performance against Ulster has posed some selection issues ahead of the Leinster game. He was happy with the majority of things from that display but also felt that his side have plenty to work on ahead of the weekend.

“We had a good discussion (about selection). We have quite a few options available and team selection is pretty difficult and we have one or two difficult choices and calls to make. Selection will be interesting this weekend. It’s nice to find some form in certain positions. We are still looking forward to welcome some guys back over the coming weeks but with what’s available at the moment it poses some selection questions which is great for a coach.”

One player who certainly put his hand up against Ulster was new scrum half signing Alby Mathewson. The Kiwi has had to wait patiently for a work permit to come through after signing a short term contract and van Graan was impressed with his debut.

Munster Rugby Squad Training, UL, Limerick 17/9/2018 Alby Mathewson Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

“I thought he did pretty well for his first game. He played with a lot of confidence and had some really positive actions like his physicality, the quality of his passing and his decision making. He also did one or two unexpected things which is good. I think he and Joey combined really well for the first time playing together.”

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John Keogh