MUNSTER NUMBER EIGHT James Coughlan will remind his team-mates this week that performances in the red jersey are the best way to force their way back into the green of Ireland.
With the ‘A’ international of the Wolfhounds out of the way, Joe Schmidt today cut his Six Nations squad to 34 names.
Five Munster players were among the 11 names told they were surplus to requirements at Carton House this week.
That number includes the front row of Dave Kilcoyne, Damien Varley and Stephen Archer; who demolished Edinburgh in the final Heineken Cup pool game. Simon Zebo, a late call-up to the Lions tour last summer, also misses out after a recent return from injury.
All in all, just four Munster representatives remain in the squad, but Coughlan insists that whatever the reaction of the fans, players simply redouble their efforts:
“It’s something that we want to change,” the Corkman told TheScore.ie after today’s launch of the SEAT Munster Schools Cup.
“For a long time the numbers were the other way around, the only way things change is by pushing on and winning something.
“If we win those the numbers will naturally change. But it’s not a day-to-day thing, not something we look at and think, ‘Jeez I wish that was different’.
“We just have to focus on what we’re doing and make sure we’re going forward. As long as we’re doing that, hopefully the numbers will change at the end of it.”
Having arrived at his 33rd birthday last month without an international cap to his name, Coughlan knows a thing or two about feeling passed over, coming close to the core group in an international camp only to sit idle while they lace up and head into battle.
As Coughlan will say himself, there are worse concerns to have in life and he is quick to shift the focus back to his province.
“The only way they can do anything about it is on the pitch. You just have to stay focused on doing your job and hopefully you’ll get a break then – that’s the opinion you have to take over the next four weeks.
“They’re a big four weeks for us and we want to really push on and get as much as we can in the Rabo so that when we come around to Heineken we’re on a roll.”
Maybe then, if Munster can go one or two steps better than last season’s exit at the semi-final stage, then the numbers will begin to balance up again.