Belfast Telegraph

A loss of belief is hurting Munster, says boss Foley

By John Fallon

Creating records is the last thing on Anthony Foley's mind right now as he bids to end a slump which is derailing Munster's season, but if they lose to Ulster in Belfast tomorrow it will become their worst losing run in the professional era.

They equalled the five consecutive losses suffered in 2003 when they went down to Leinster last week, but that string of defeats came when Munster had 10 players on World Cup duty.

None of those defeats came in the Heineken Cup and one of them was away to Glasgow in the Celtic Cup, which was run for a couple of seasons back then.

Foley admitted that the current losing run, which started in late November with a first win by Connacht in Thomond Park since 1986, has impacted on morale in the squad.

"There is no doubt a lack of confidence is affecting everyone; players, supporters, staff, coaches, management. I think when you go on a losing run like this you try and keep everything in context. But sometimes it is very hard to do that," he said.

"The same way with when you go on a winning streak, it is very hard to keep your feet on the ground. We try and keep a level balance to it.

"We look at where our shortcomings are and if we can rectify some of them we'll be a very hard team to beat. In some respects we're beating ourselves."

And should they go down to in-form Ulster at Kingspan Stadium, it will become the first time Munster have lost to all three Irish provinces in the same season.

Foley has made seven changes to the starting line-up, with Tommy O'Donnell making his first start after his swift recovery from the hip injury which ruined his World Cup dream.

He is one of four changes up front, with Dave Kilcoyne at loosehead in place of the injured James Cronin, while former Ulster prop BJ Botha returns to take his place on the opposite side of the front row at tighthead having missed the Leinster loss.

In the second row, experienced Wallaby lock Mark Chisholm is brought back in for the injured Donnacha Ryan.

Munster: Andrew Conway; Ronan O'Mahony, Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino; Ian Keatley, Tomás O'Leary; Dave Kilcoyne, Mike Sherry, BJ Botha; Dave Foley, Mark Chisholm; Jack O'Donoghue, Tommy O'Donnell, CJ Stander Capt. Replacements: Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Mario Sagario, Billy Holland, Robin Copeland, Duncan Williams, Tyler Bleyendaal, Denis Hurley.

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