"So we’re all just copying Leinster, are we?" - Munster bristle at post-match comments
"25 days ago, we were paranoid about European qualification."
While Munster supporters were still rocking and rolling around Dublin, and others were looking into flights to Cape Town for a URC Final, Graham Rowntree was reflecting on four huge away wins that have his side on the brink of a title.
Such is the United Rugby Championship structure that a side just needs to finish 8th out of 16 sides to have a chance - and three games - to win the whole competition. Munster went to South Africa in danger of missing out on the playoff stages, a month ago, but won and drew to secure 5th place.
They travelled to Scotstoun and beat a fancied Glasgow Warriors side, knowing the reward would be Leinster at Aviva Stadium for a place in the URC Final.
On Saturday, they achieved just that with a tense 16-15 win. There was some bite and incredulity to Graham Rowntree's words when he was informed of some post-match musings from Leo Cullen.
Graham Rowntree on next step for Munster
A reporter at Lansdowne Road informed Graham Rowntree, in the post-match briefing, that Leo Cullen had remarked upon similarities in the Munster attack and defensive shape, and structures, to his own Leinster side.
Rowntree raised an eyebrow and the happy manner of his press conference was briefly forgotten.
"So we're all copying Leinster, are we? We all just copy Leinster, do we?"
The line of questioning uneasily shifted to the energy levels of the Munster squad, and how the players must be pushing themselves in training. "Absolutely," Rowntree replied.
"What we do in training every day changes... You've got to train under intensity, test your skills a lot, under pressure. We've had had the opportunity to chop and change our squad a lot. A core group of lads have battled, away from home, for five weeks now. That was given them huge belief."
Leaning into that theme, the Munster coach stated, "We've come through some fires these past few weeks. When we go to Cape Town, it will be our sixth away game on the bounce. That is when we are finding out about people.
"We're tough, hardened, battle-hardened. So it was never hopeless. This team never goes away."
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