SANDWICHED AS IT is in between the international November Test window and the Heineken Cup double-header in December, this weekend’s RaboDirect Pro12 action might prove a motivationally demanding task for some teams.
Munster welcome Top 14 side Perpignan to Thomond Park on the 8th of next month, but before that Rob Penney’s men are tasked with a league fixture away to the Dragons on Friday. Tight head prop Stephen Archer says looking too far ahead is a dangerous game.
“It’s very important to build the momentum, it would be easy to look ahead to Perpignan but we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground and concentrate on the Dragons,” he told Munster Rugby.
They’re sneaking up the table after that win against Glasgow and we’ve had a difficult time over there before, I’ve played there three times and only won once so hopefully we can get a win.”
Indeed, the Welsh region find themselves seventh in the table with four wins in eight games this season after much-improved performances under the guidance of Lyn Jones. The Dragons have vastly progressed in defence particularly, where their chop tackles are particularly noticeable.
Young stars like centre Jack Dixon, and powerful wings Tom Prydie and Hallam Amos – who made his Wales debut against Tonga last weekend at the age of 19 – suggest that the future is bright for the Newport-based outfit.
Archer in action against Australia this month. ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.
Munster too have enjoyed a positive campaign so far – aside from the shock defeat to Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup – and Penney’s men lead the Pro12 coming into this weekend. Performances haven’t always been up to scratch, but the elements are in place for better.
Archer is hopeful that what he perceives as the depth of Munster’s squad can result in excellence on the pitch.
“If you look at every position there’s two or three or even four in some positions where fellas are neck and neck and you don’t really know week to week who will play. There’s very good competition in training.”
The lads have played the last two matches and had great wins and put in excellent performances. Hopefully now the players who are coming back into the squad from international duty can give it a good go and put our hands up for Heineken Cup selection.”
Archer himself is set for his 60th Munster cap on Friday night, coming hot on the heels of his second international appearance [against Australia] this month. These landmarks are deserved for a man who continues to improve every time he lines out for his province.
“I’m looking forward to it, I didn’t actually realise it until now. As a player you sometimes forget about those things and the caps come quicker than you imagine so I’m looking forward to Friday night.”
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