United Rugby Championship

Munster Rugby Chasing Title-Winning Momentum Again In South Africa

Munster Rugby Chasing Title-Winning Momentum Again In South Africa

Reigning BKT URC champion Munster Rugby stunned the Vodacom Bulls for a historic win, and head coach Graham Rowntree looks ahead to the rest of the season.

Apr 24, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Munster Rugby Chasing Title-Winning Momentum Again In South Africa

Reigning BKT URC champion Munster Rugby completed arguably the upset of the season when it downed an in-form Vodacom Bulls side in Round 14.

Traveling to Pretoria never is easy, but Graham Rowntree’s side looked in complete control in dispatching Jake White’s well-rested squad.

Becoming the first European club to win in Pretoria will be a major confidence boost for a Munster squad that is beginning to see several key players return from injury.

Looking back to a season ago, Rowntree was asked if his team would draw confidence from its impressive playoff run in 2023.

“We’ll find out;," he said. "We are certainly used to big away games at this point in the season, especially in South Africa.”

Asked if he enjoys the pressure that comes with big games at this point in the season, Rowntree said, “I do, particularly when there are bottles of pinotage after the game on supply.

“I do, actually, and I think it showed last year. The momentum it gives you winning away from home and not rotating your squad too much.

“The same guys playing each week gives you real belief and momentum.”

Looking forward, Rowntree said it was a combination of Munster writing a new chapter in its story.

“We do turn to that (last season) that actually happened; it gives us belief to do what we did on the road last year," Rowntree said. “Turning the chapter, yes, you’ve got to evolve your game and deal with what’s in front of you.

“But coming away from home, you can always call upon those true memories, not false beliefs, but true memories about what happened on the road. So, it’s definitely something we will be using.”

Discussing the impact of his senior players on the squad, Rowntree was asked about Conor Murray’s impact following his terrific performance against the Bulls.

“He made the most tackles out of the backline and controlled the game," Rowntree said. “If you consider that you want to use your contestable kicking game as a weapon, there are not many better players on the planet.

“He brings an air of confidence around the group; to have the likes of himself, Peter (O’Mahony), and Tadhg Beirne around, just the confidence it gives the lads is good.

“I was delighted with his performance; he has had his disappointments about not starting for us over the last year, but we are very pleased."

Next up for Munster is a clash with a red-hot Emirates Lions side at Ellis Park. The Johannesburg side will enter brimming with confidence, having thumped table-topper Leinster in Round 14.

Not looking too far ahead, Rowntree complimented his team’s next opponents.

“This team is highly underrated, and they can play rugby, they can muscle up as well," Rowntree said. "They are a hard team who we have analyzed well, they are highly underrated. You saw what they did to Connacht and what they did to Leinster last week; we’ve got our hands full.”

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