For this reason, the 35-21 loss to Glasgow last week still rankles with the players, as they just could not get going up front.
Coach Jake White referred to them as “lethargic” at Scotstoun Stadium, and he is determined to prevent a repeat in Saturday night’s United Rugby Championship match against Munster in Limerick (8.35pm SA time kickoff).
Yesterday, the former Springbok coach made a staggering seven changes to the starting lineup, although he claimed it was due to a rotation policy.
But he’ll be hoping that newcomers like props Simphiwe Matanzima and Mornay Smith, flanker WJ Steenkamp, and even backs Embrose Papier, Johan Goosen, Wandisile Simelane, and Harold Vorster will help the Pretoria side stand up when the going gets rough.
“This is the million-dollar question: how can you restore the pack’s physical condition?” White stated yesterday from Limerick, “We’ve spent a lot of time talking to them and the coaches about spending additional time with the forwards and having them to appreciate the importance of not only this game, but being able to show up every week.”
“According to the ancient saying, the forwards win the game, while the backs determine by how much. And this fact will never alter.
We probably did not play as well as we could have last week. I believe we allowed them to defeat us during the breakdown. They halted our maul, and teams will undertake analysis and say, “If you play the Bulls and stop their maul and get inside them at the breakdown, you have a chance of disrupting their flow” – which is precisely what occurred last week.
“Therefore, we have shown them some of these clips and emphasized the importance of getting these things properly. Russell (Winter, forwards coach) and Werner (Scrum coach) worked hard this week to help the forward pack comprehend…
“This is a monumental match: Munster in Limerick, for the first time at home, with their backs to the wall. Tomorrow, we will have to roll up our sleeves and play; there will be no freebies.”
Former All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa and Irish Test flyhalf Joey Carbery at the back, along with Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne up front, provide Munster with some significant firepower, and they were able to select experienced captain Peter O’Mahony yesterday after he had been a doubt all week.
Therefore, they will be difficult to defeat on a freshly-laid field at Thomond Park, despite having lost three of their last four games this season.
However, White believes that his team’s mindset has shifted this week, and that their drive to rebound from the Glasgow setback has been bolstered by conversations with Limerick residents.
“After a loss of that magnitude, players will rally and become a bit more focused, but that is a natural occurrence. “However, I have observed that this week’s training has been productive, and we are aware that this is a crucial match,” he stated.
“Everyone we encounter in Ireland tells us how special Thomond Park is and how challenging it is to play there… From breakfast through dinner, everyone tells us how amazing it is to be here.
“Therefore, this week has been pretty favorable for these young men, as we’ve been nearly welcomed in the heart of Limerick. We have been able to obtain a complete understanding of what it is like to compete against Munster.
“As a group, we must alter our actions from last week. Munster is still a competent team. This group has an enormous amount of Test experience.”
Personnel For Thomond Park
Munster: 15 Christopher Campbell 12 Dan Goggin 11 Shane Daly 10 Joey Carbery 9 Craig Casey 8 Gavin Coombes 7 Peter O’Mahony (captain) 6 Tadhg Beirne Five Edwin Edogbo, four Jean Kleyn, three Stephen Archer, two Niall Scannell, and one Jeremy Loughman.
16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Roman Salanoa, and 19 Tom Ahern on the bench Jack O’Donoghue is followed by Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, and John Hodnett.
Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse fourteen Cornal Hendricks 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 Harold Vorster 11 Wandisile Simelane 10 Johan Goosen 9 Embrose Papier Eight Elrigh Louw 7 WJ Steenkamp 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain) 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp Three Mornay Smith 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Bench: 16 17 Bismarck du Plessis and 17 18 Jacques van Rooyen 19 Ruan Vermaak 20 Marco van Staden 21 Zak Burger 22 Chris Smith followed by 23 David Kriel.