Media Watch: van Graan targets domestic success and Friend finds positives in defeat

Peter White
20 January 2020

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The fate of the three Guinness PRO14 teams in European action on Sunday may have been mostly determined prior to kick-off, but there was still room for plenty of drama with a feast of scintillating action entertaining fans across the continent.

Munster signed off from this year’s Heineken Champions Cup by piling further misery on Conference A’s bottom side Ospreys, with a 33-6 win at Thomond Park shining some light on only their fourth pool stage exit in 22 years.

And we start Monday’s media watch in Limerick, where home boss Johann van Graan explained a freak training ground incident – in which Chris Cloete and Chris Farrell collided with each other – had ruled the pair out of their side’s latest encounter.

Incidentally, Farrell has outlined the disappointment felt by the Munster squad in the wake of their disappointing European campaign, with the Red Army left to concentrate on re-establishing themselves as Conference B’s best side.

Indeed, following victory over Ospreys, van Graan outlined how the Irishmen’s complete attention is now focused on domestic success, while visiting forwards coach Carl Hogg is similarly keen for his team to climb up the PRO14 rankings.

The Swansea-based outfit have endured a torrid season so far, with just one win from 16 games at home and in Europe.

Also in action on Sunday were 2015/16 PRO14 champions Connacht, who ended their Champions Cup venture with an agonising 35-29 defeat at Montpellier. While clearly disappointed, head coach Andy Friend identified plenty of positives from the game.

Elsewhere, Saracens’ 27-24 win over Racing 92 confirmed Glasgow Warriors’ exit from Europe’s premier competition, despite their impressive 45-7 bonus-point win at Sale Sharks on Saturday.

In the Challenge Cup, Edinburgh face the daunting task of toppling Top 14 leaders Bordeaux in the quarter-finals, but boss Richard Cockerill is confident his side can do the business against a team they failed to beat in the pool stage.

Staying in the Scottish capital, Matt Scott has been talking about his journey back to the national squad following a serious concussion injury, with the centre hoping to earn a first Six Nations appearance since 2017 this spring.

In Wales, Brad Mooar is confident Scarlets can progress in the Challenge Cup despite only just scraping through to the last-eight where they will play Toulon, while Ulster boss Dan McFarland has hailed Stuart McCloskey’s recent performances after the 27-year-old was left out of Ireland’s Six Nations plans.

Leinster joined the Belfast-based outfit in the Champions Cup knockout stages with an 18-0 win at Benetton, but despite defeat home coach Kieran Crowley was buoyed by the performance of his team.

And we finish in South Africa, where it has been announced that Toyota Cheetahs kicking and skills coach Albert Keuris will lend his assistance to Italy ahead of this year’s Six Nations.

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