Scannell insists small margins the difference as Munster face familiar foes in battle for final berth
Rory Scannell believes the gap between Munster and Leinster is not as big as many people are currently making out.
Having watched their arch rivals become Europe's kingpins for the fourth time last weekend, Munster travel to the capital on Saturday looking to upset the odds and book a place in the Guinness PRO14 final.
For many, Leinster are comfortably out on their own in terms of being the dominant team in Ireland, but Scannell doesn't quite go along with that notion.
Munster desperately need a big performance at the RDS if they are to make next weekend's final and, with their backs against the wall, Scannell is adamant his side can prove a point.
"I don't think there is a massive margin," he insists.
"It's those small margins. In that period where Leinster won four European Cups, we have reached six semi-finals, so we are not that far away.
"I think if you look back to two seasons ago, we weren't in the semi-finals of the league nor did we get out of the group stages of Europe, so we have made massive strides since then, two semi-finals last few years (Europe), another semi-final and final of the PRO14 last year as well.
"It's those small margins, but we are going to have to cut them down if we want to have a chance of getting a win at the weekend."
Scannell admits that there is an element of pressure on Munster's shoulders as they look to bring an end to their trophy-less run.
"If you look at lads like Earlsy, Pete (O'Mahony), Billy (Holland) and these guys, they haven't got their hands on silverware since 2011 and some of them weren't even involved back then, so we don't want those guys going their whole Munster careers without getting their hands on a trophy.
"That was the aim at the start of the season, to get our hands on silverware. We have a great opportunity to do it now."
With Robbie Henshaw missing through injury, Scannell has a chance to stake his claim ahead of next month's Ireland tour.
Joe Schmidt will finalise his squad next week and, deep down, the ultra-consistent Scannell must feel that he is close to securing a place on the plane to Australia.
"We wouldn't really be thinking about that too much," the centre adds. "There are guys looking to go up against their opposite numbers and challenging for that position on the tour.
"But that's probably at the back of our minds at the minute. It's all about the team now. We just want to do our best and hopefully get our hands on a trophy come the end of the season."
Meanwhile, Connacht have signed former Ulster hooker Jonny Murphy from Rotherham Titans. The 26-year-old Banbridge native has represented Ireland at U-18, U-19 and U-20 levels.
"I am relishing the challenge of joining Connacht and look forward to joining," Murphy said.