Graham Rowntree and Calvin Nash “looking forward to a massive challenge” against the Sharks

Rowntree is under no illusion of the threat that the Sharks will provide on Saturday afternoon, with World Cup winners aplenty at their disposal.

Munster’s season could hinge on their first trip to South Africa this weekend as they travel to Durban to take on the Cell C Sharks in the Champions Cup Round of 16.

The Irish province will be up against it when facing the Springbok side, especially considering their disappointing performance against Glasgow where they lost ground in the race for the top four of the URC.

But Munster Head Coach Graham Rowntree is confident in his side’s ability to bounce back this Saturday against the Sharks in what is a huge European game for the province.

“I’ll get the reaction. The guys are honest and are very very down afterwards as they should be. I was down afterwards. But the beauty of this sport you’ve got another huge challenge just around the corner so you’ve got to deal with it and the pictures are undeniable. you just got to show them. I don’t have to shame the lads, they know they’ve got to deal with it. We’re just doing a good training session. We’re in good nick and looking forward to a massive challenge. 

“In this competition, in these club these games away from home, this is why you do it. I keep telling the lads what a memory this will be if we get this one right at the weekend. 

Rowntree is under no illusion of the threat that the Sharks will provide on Saturday afternoon, with World Cup winners, Eben Etzebeth, Soya Kolisi, Thomas Du Toit, Lukhanyo Am aswell as former Munster man Gerbrandt Grobler at their disposal.

He likened them to Toulouse, who eliminated Munster in the quarter-finals of last year’s competition.

“They were a handful, they can score tries but you talk about their power game, their power game is very impressive. I would compare them to a Toulouse the way they’re able to play the game and their qualities that you have to respect around their maul and their scrum so our discipline is going to have to be spot on

“The weekend. I mean that’s one thing that was better at the weekend, seven penalties we conceded against Glasgow. Our discipline has got to be as good this week because I don’t really want to be defending mauls all day with the size of their pack.”

25 September 2021; Calvin Nash during the warm-up before United Rugby Championship match between Munster and Cell C Sharks at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Munster will be buoyed by the return of internationals Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony who missed the Glasgow game after featuring in Ireland’s Grand Slam win against England.

They will bring considerable European experience but one player that has shone in the absence of those players is winger Calvin Nash who is ready to take the game “as it comes.”

“We need to just harden up a bit and come out of the blocks faster. It’s a massive challenge and it’ll be our first time as well playing the South African side in a knockout game down in Durban so a massive challenge for everyone. A good bit of travel, the sun and all that as well is another factor but look we just take it as it comes I suppose and training’s been going very well this week so we’ll take it as it comes.”

Munster face the Cell C Sharks in Durban in the Champions Cup Round of 16 on Saturday, April 1 at 12.30pm (Irish Time)

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