United Rugby Championship: Stephen Larkham wants Munster to stick to their guns against Ulster

Date published: May 31 2022 - Dylan Coetzee

Munster attack coach Stephen Larkham says it is crucial for his side to play their natural game when they face rivals Ulster in the quarter-finals of the United Rugby Championship.

The Limerick men beat Ulster 24-17 in Belfast the last time the two teams met and will need to replicate that powerful performance this weekend to advance in the play-offs.

Control the game

The Wallaby legend believes that controlling the ball and territory is crucial against Ulster whilst also being wary of their strong set-piece.

“We’ve got to make sure that we play the game that we want to play,” said Larkham.

“We felt that we did that the last time we played against them, we felt that we controlled the territory quite well, we held the ball when we needed to hold the ball and we transferred the ball when we felt we didn’t have good momentum.

“So it’s going to be much of the same for us, making sure that our process, our systems are consistent throughout the game and we’re very conscious of their set-piece, their breakdown pressure and their kicking game.”

Larkham says his team have touched on the various permutations and what that will mean for the club after the URC quarter-finals.

“We’ve spoken about the possibilities of what’s going to happen after this weekend (if Munster beat Ulster) but we don’t know so there’s no point harping on that,” he added. “Guys will be ready to, you know, we’ll have a day in between where guys can pack if we have to go to South Africa or if we have to go to Edinburgh, that will be later in the week so it’s not such a big issue.”

However, Larkham knows that play-off rugby can be ruthless, and the mindset has to be honed on the next game only.

“But finals footy is always the same. You concentrate on the next game and we’ve been doing this now for the last four or five games, getting in there and concentrate on making sure we get performance this weekend and then everything after that looks after itself,” he said.

The former Brumbies man believes that Joey Carbery can stand up and deliver under pressure and commended the professionalism shown by the Ireland fly-half this year.

“He was out for a long time with a couple of different injuries, but mainly his ankle, and it was really hard for him to find his groove (this season),” said Larkham.

“And I’ve certainly seen a change in his professionalism this year. Well, he hasn’t really been with the team prior to this season and I’ve had a chance to work with him on a professional level.

“And he’s been amazing, very diligent with his preparation, takes a lot of notes in meetings, studies the way that we want to play, studies his own game, and I think he’s been progressing every game that he plays, he’s getting better and better.

“In terms of his performance this weekend, it’s like everyone, you’re not thinking individually, you’re thinking from a team perspective, and particularly as a 10 you have to make sure the team is functioning before yourself.

“And I think that’s going to be the case with Joey this week, it’s been the case every week since I’ve been working with him and I’ve no doubt that he will put in another good performance this week.”

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