Munster coach Mike Prendergast believes Ulster could be ‘galvanised’ by tour woes

‘I’m sure they will come down with a lot of confidence and we have to be ready for that’

Munster attack coach Mike Prendergast reckons that Ulster’s difficulties in South Africa last week will not leave them vulnerable this Saturday at Thomond Park and might actually galvanise them as both sides go in search of a win to complete this block of URC games.

Prendergast pointed out that when Munster ran into Covid difficulties last season in South Africa and had to field a massively understrength side against Wasps in the Champions Cup on their return home, they managed to turn the saga into a driving force and went on to score a magnificent win in Coventry.

And with URC chief executive Martin Anayi on Tuesday suggesting that Ulster may forfeit the match points for failing to fulfil the fixture against the Sharks due to 29 players and 13 staff going down with gastroenteritis, Dan McFarland’s men could be a fairly driven force by the time they arrive in Limerick for what will be the third interpro of the season for each of them.

“I know the same happened to Munster last year,” said Prendergast when asked if Ulster might be vulnerable after such a disruption in South Africa.

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“It will probably galvanise them. You look at their last game, they had a win over in South Africa against the Lions, which a lot of teams haven’t done. I’m sure they will come down with a lot of confidence and we have to be ready for that.

“It is a hugely important game. We alluded to it this morning, how important it is. Not relying on being at home but it’s definitely something that will help because we did feel that energy from the crowd against the Bulls.

“We know there have been improvements in our game but we still need results to go with that. We know we need to get a result this weekend against a very good Ulster team.”

Meanwhile, Prendergast said that Irish winger Andrew Conway, out since March with a troublesome knee injury, is close to a return to action.

Conway himself had targeted being back by the end of October but it looks like it will be a bit longer.

“He’s been out for quite some time. It’s an injury, along with a couple of others, that occurred last year, and having come back this year,” added Prendergast.

“He’s in a good place at the moment and I don’t think he’s very far away from getting back on the pitch and playing with us.

“There are a lot of positives around him over the last week or two, so like I said, he’s not too far away from coming back.”

The Munster attack coach said the positive injury news from Irish camp on outhalf Joey Carbery was welcome.

“Great, great, really good. I thought in the last two weeks our performances have stepped up and Joey has been a big part of that.

“He has been driving things off the pitch as well. He’s a smart rugby player, he knows the game and he’s got huge respect from the players as well, so when he does talk, guys listen.

“I could see him, he’s definitely well connected and he’s linking guys. You could see when we had a second ‘10′ on the pitch in Jack Crowley, how influential that was.

“Guys, at times, get each other and they are probably two footballers that get each other. One helping the other out in terms of what he needs as a ‘10′.

“That’s been helpful for us. But yeah, I think he’s really stepped up over the last two weeks. I thought even the 50 minutes he played last week was very good.”