As the dust settles on the 2013 Six Nations it is a good time to take stock on the impacts on Munster.
The positives include the great form Conor Murray displayed, the experience for Stephen Archer of being involved in the Ireland team and getting his first cap in Rome, while Dave Kilcoyne who did not have had the opportunity to demonstrate his Munster ball carrying form will have benefited from his involvement. Peter O’Mahony proved his selection was warranted and continues to grow into the role of international flanker, and also acquitted himself as a stand-in winger in the Italian game. Simon Zebo brought himself to world attention through his try and audacious flick in the Wales game. The Championship also provided an opportunity for the A team and fringe players to show what they could do in the red of Munster in the absence of the Internationals and some definitely put their hand up for inclusion in the business end of the season for the senior team or the B&I Cup team.
On the other side of the balance sheet are the injuries to Zebo who is working hard on his rehab to be fit for the European Cup quarterfinal, Keith Earls was injured in the Italian game and the severity is yet to be determined while Donnacha Ryan carried a shoulder injury through the last 3 games. The impact of the dropping of both Ronan O’Gara and Donncha O’Callaghan may motivate them to prove the Ireland coach wrong through their form for Munster. All the players will need to be carefully managed back into the fold as the campaign has taken it’s toll on them physically and mentally.
Next Saturday evening Munster will take on Connaught in the RaboDirect Pro12 in Cork. The expected inclusion of Paul O’Connell in the team may swell the attendance, as his return to match fitness continues from his Munster A team appearance and recent game for Young Munster. See his A team post match interview here where he speaks about his new “best friends” in that team. Victory is imperative to maintain hope of making the semi-finals of the league and to build momentum towards the Heineken Cup quarter final which is just 2 weeks later on April 7th.
Great to see the Irish Women’s team game v Italy on TV today. In poor conditions they slogged out a 6-3 win and claimed their first ever Grand Slam in the Six Nations. Their mud streaked faces could not hide the joy they felt at their achievement.