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'They're clearly the best team in Europe' | van Graan on Leinster

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

15:49 18 Aug 2020

Johann van Graan will be very keen to see his Munster players return to action at the end of a week in which their health has been the main talking point.

News of Joey Carbery's latest injury set back was a bitter blow ahead of the Guinness PRO14 season's restart but the Covid-19 pandemic that forced a halt to the season last March has now also impacted the Munster squad.

Thankfully the players were able to return to training this week after last week's suspension due to one of the province's academy players testing positive for the virus but van Graan expressed his gratitude for how the situation was handled by his medical team.

"We as a group said we would always look after the people first so that's our first priority is to make sure that everybody's healthy and safe," said van Graan.

"In conjunction with Jamie Kearns our doctor, who's been excellent over the last six months, he contacted the HSE and they made some very good decisions for the squad and we were over-cautious with, not only the players, but staff as well.

"We just bought some time and we came in on Monday, we did the routine testing which all four provinces were going to do in any case on Monday morning. Those results will filter in later in the week. We can't control what happened in the past, it's now just what's ahead. For us it's two more training sessions and Saturday evening in Dublin."

With all focus now on playing, there is just the small matter of the biggest derby match in Irish rugby with Munster gearing up for a trip to Dublin to take on their fierce rivals Leinster in their first match after the PRO14 shutdown and van Graan confirmed that new signings RG Snyman and Damien de Allende are ready to play.

The Blues are guaranteed a play-off semi-final place but Munster, while almost assured of a place in the last four, have a bit more work to do and van Graan understands the challenge that lays ahead of his team if they are to remain in contention for their last chance at winning silverware this season.

"We're going into the Aviva Stadium against Leinster who have only lost one PRO14 game in, I don't know, the last 19 or 20 there. They're unbeaten the whole of last season," said van Graan.

"There's certainly no weaknesses in their squad, very good lineout, fantastic scrum, continuity game is excellent and so is their defence. We'll have to be very good to beat them in the Aviva but our focus has been very much on ourselves. We give them the respect that they deserve.

"They're quite clearly currently the best team in Europe and this is the start of a new competition for us over the, hopefully, next four weekends but the only thing we know for a fact is that we have two games against Leinster and Connacht."

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Aviva Stadium Guinness Pro14 Johann Van Graan Leinster Munster Munster Rugby

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