Munster are in another Champions Cup Semi Final, It’s a 12th semi final appearance since 1995. This squad with a few additions is the same one that has progressed to three successive semi finals since 2016. The time is now to progress further than the Semi Final as a number of this Munster squad are in the prime of their careers and will want to get to a first European Final since 2008.
Players like Peter O Mahony, Conor Murray and CJ Stander have achieved plenty in the green of Ireland over the last few years but there is still no trophy in club colours for these guys and the Semi Final against Saracens in three weeks time represents another shot at a team that has the Indian sign over Munster in the last few meetings.
Saracens will feel they will walk this Semi Final, all the talk even at this stage is that they will get past Munster with ease down in Coventry at 3.15pm on the 21st of April. Yes the Munster performances in recent times would suggest that they have it all to do in this game but this group has it within them to put all missed opportunities behind them. The talk from certain personalities seemed to suggest that the trophy could nearly have been handed out after their impressive 56-27 win over Glasgow.
They did it well without Owen Farrell who welcomed his 1st child into the world last weekend. Alex Goode stepped into the 10 role as he has done many times in the last few years with Max Malins getting a spot on the bench. They have the strength in depth to win a third Champions Cup but Munster will have a shot at stopping that particular dream and the manner of the loss in 2016 in Dublin will prove that Munster have work to do but having Conor Murray available this time round unlike 2014 and 2016 will help the Munster cause.
Although the availability of Joey Carbery remains to be seen and he will be carefully managed in the next few weeks with an eye on getting him fit and ready for the game in the Ricoh Arena.
Tyler Bleyendaal came on early last weekend and landed two big kicks at goal and rescued a wayward Munster line out to help in setting up the 2nd Keith Earls try. If Joey Carbery does not make the Semi, Tyler looks to be in pole position to get the out half slot if Carbery is ruled out.
It’s seems like Saracens have one foot in the final already and the Munster squad have plenty of material already that they can use the adorn the wall of the dressing room because a large share of people have Saracens pencilled in to play in St James Park on May 18th.
Munster will need to summon up there powers that saw them squeak past Edinburgh last Saturday. Not many will be in the camp, but sport doesn’t all run smoothly and Munster will need an 80 minute performance and not just play for short periods as they have done in the last two Semi Finals.
Johan Van Graan and his coaching team has had their honeymoon period and the time is now to show they have learned those hard worn lessons of the past two seasons. Will Munster make a first European Final since the win in 08, the game in Coventry on the 21st will tell a lot. It will be 11 years after Munster last played there against Saracens on that afternoon they won through 18-16…. A two point win would do the trick in a few weeks. Roll on Saracens in a few weeks time…
Time for this Munster squad to come of age and not just tell us about lessons learned and we will be back in 12 months time… 2019 can be the year that this squad puts those heart breaking losses to bed and start putting wins in the columns alongside these Semi Finals…..