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Van Graan wary of Edinburgh’s quality despite dramatic slump


Billy Holland

Billy Holland

Billy Holland

For a team that finished ahead of Munster in their Guinness PRO14 conference last season, Edinburgh’s fall has been quite remarkable.

Both teams ended up on 51 points, which left Munster with yet another semi-final defeat to Leinster, while Edinburgh crashed out against Ulster.

That there are 23 points separating the two sides ahead of Munster’s visit to Murrayfield this evening highlights their drastic change in fortunes.

Johann van Graan’s men have been ticking along nicely this season, even if they used their ‘get out of jail free’ card last time out in Treviso. The sight of Andrew Conway in a red jersey for the first time in over two months is certainly welcome, from a Munster and Ireland point of view.

Those Ireland squad members such as Conway, Chris Farrell, Shane Daly and Craig Casey, who is still awaiting his first cap, will feel they have a point to prove in Scotland.

Casey would have been disappointed not to have been used off the bench in last weekend’s defeat to France, but the talented 21-year-old scrum-half gets an ideal chance to bounce back.

Away from the glitz and glamour of the jockeying for Six Nations positions, Billy Holland will play his 240th game for his home province.

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To put that feat into context, Holland will equal Ronan O’Gara for the number of appearances and go joint second on the all-time list behind record-holder Donncha O’Callaghan (268).

Holland will captain Munster from the second-row and for all that he will hope to mark the milestone with a victory, Van Graan warned against the challenge that awaits.

“Edinburgh are a quality team, we’ve played them in the European quarter-final two seasons ago, they beat us in Cork a year ago, it will definitely be a battle,” the Munster boss said.

“They are a quality team, we know exactly what’s coming and so will they. We’ve a lot of respect for their coaching staff and what they’ve done with that team.

“(They’ve) A lot of big names, Bill Mata is one of the best players in the world. They’ve got a very specific way of playing, a kicking game off nine and 10, you know what’s coming, you’ve got to stop that very aggressive defence.

“Some of the players there, I’ve coached before, they’re just a good rugby team. It will be a tough battle and I’d imagine it will be a very tough game that can go either way.”

It certainly won’t be easy, but Munster have enough quality.

Belfast Telegraph

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