Van Graan impressed with ‘mostly everything’ about in-form Connacht
MUNSTER COACH Johann van Graan said they will need to produce a quality display in Galway if they are to end a six-match losing run away to Irish provinces.
The South African has been impressed with Connacht’s form this season and knows that old acquaintance Andy Friend will have his men charged up for the final derby of the festive programme.
Confidence is high in Munster after their win over Leinster but van Graan said they expect a similar test when they take on in-form Connacht at the Sportsground this evening.
“Mostly everything that they have been doing,” said van Graan when asked what has impressed him about Connacht this term.
“I think their defence is top-notch and their continuity play is very impressive, their kicking game is long and they force you into making mistakes.
He has made seven changes to the side that defeated Leinster last weekend at Thomond Park, with skipper Peter O’Mahony back on the blindside, while Tommy O’Donnell makes his return after a two-and-a-half month leg injury lay-off.
Jeremy Loughman is handed the number one shirt for just the fourth time, while Arno Botha comes in to replace CJ Stander at No 8, and the Ireland back row drops to the replacements.
In the backs Alby Mathewson starts ahead of the benched Conor Murray, while Chris Farrell has shaken off a thigh injury to start alongside Dan Goggin in the centre.
“We always knew this week was going to be a massive game in terms of the group and the fact that Connacht and ourselves are so close in the conference also adds to it,” said van Graan.
“And then you also want to build into next week, into Gloucester, to get your combinations, so there is a lot riding on this game.”
Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Andy Dunne preview the weekend’s action:
Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud
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