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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Why URC champs Munster relish touring SA: ‘If we win here, we believe we can beat anyone’

United Rugby Championship holders, Munster, kicked off their South African tour with a win over the Bulls.

If there’s one team that relishes going on tour to South Africa in the United Rugby Championship it has to be the current champions, Munster.

Touring in the URC has been met with a bit of resistance by many teams, be it to the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, it’s all the same. Teams often think about the logistics and the toll it takes on the players, and that results in them holding back when touring.

Munster fans in Pretoria

However, with Munster, it is a bit different. The Irish province embraces touring South Africa. Their fans also look forward to touring with the team.

Four buses transporting Munster supporters could be seen parked outside the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria this last week.

Munster fans also made their presence felt on Saturday night at Loftus Versfeld when their team took on the Bulls, where they won 27-22.

The win for Munster was a statement of intent, as they defeated one of this season’s form teams at home and reminded everyone why they are the defending champions.

‘We had a good plan for the Bulls’

Munster coach Graham Rowntree painted a picture of how they managed to get the job done in Pretoria.

“We had a good plan going into this game against this team at altitude and we stuck to that plan,” Rowntree told the media.

“We spoke at the end of the game about dealing with adversity and moving on quickly from errors. I thought we did that. Sticking to the plan is a real skill in itself, not panicking.

“We had to conserve our energy, and at the right time, we had to kick very smartly and go away from how we have been playing the game for two years in terms of keeping the ball on the field. I’m glad it worked,” he said.

‘We respect SA teams’

Before the game, Bulls mentor Jake White said Munster shouldn’t be underestimated as they know how to win in South Africa. His observations were right as Munster came out on top.

Asked about their good record in South Africa, Rowntree said they respect the franchises.

“We respect them; we have respect for South African teams. When you come down here it’s a short training week and at altitude, you have got to be good. Immensely proud of the lads against a proper team,” he said.

Why Munster love SA?

Munster winger Shane Daly is hoping their tour can have the same positive effect as last season’s tour which inspired their journey to winning the tournament.

“You saw what happened to us last year on our trip to South Africa; it completely changed our season,” said Daly.

“Those types of wins against the Stormers and the game against the Sharks (draw), we probably should have won that game.

“The confidence that gave us, if we can go to these places and win, who else can’t we beat? It really changed our perspective; we believe we can beat any team,” he said.

Next for Munster is a trip to Johannesburg where they will take on the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, kick-off at 5pm.