9:30am Thursday 26th April 2012
By Chris Kirwan
IT’S UNLIKELY that the Cross Keys players needed a reminder of the daunting task awaiting them in Cork but backs coach Mark Ring has provided one anyway by comparing Munster to the All Blacks.
The former Wales fly-half/centre has been spending the week watching footage of the Irish province and coming up with a game plan for tomorrow’s British and Irish Cup final.
Keys have already claimed the scalps of Moseley, Ayr, Neath, Llanelli and Cornish Pirates on their way to Musgrave Park.
But Ring is under new illusions about what they will be facing in the south west of Ireland, even comparing their hosts to the world champions.
"It’s a daunting task and having done a lot of the analysis I would liken Munster to a lesser level All Blacks," he said.
"They have a similar template to New Zealand and this will be a totally different challenge to the Pirates in the semi-final.
"Munster will be just as physical but will be up off the floor and into the next phases in groups twice as quick.
"The Pirates were fairly easy to analyse in that they just keep coming, they just keep carrying and they just keep destructing.
"Munster are a different test altogether.
"Their rugby knowledge and understanding of their game plan is phenomenal." Ring said he is full of admiration for Munster but he is also confident that his charges can produce the goods in a highly charged Cork atmosphere.
"Our players have grown in stature since the start of the tournament and are in a strong place because there are lots of leaders in our side," he said.
"They are a dream to coach because they take control.
"They understand the game, see what is unfolding before them and make decisions accordingly.
"That makes me confident that this group of players will make a lot of good choices tomorrow regardless of how big the occasion is."
A key decision-maker will be Newport Gwent Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey, in as a replacement for injured regional teammate Steffan Jones.
Ring believes the Cardiff Blues-bound number 10 will benefit from the man on his outside shoulder. "Phil Williams is a bit of an unsung hero and can give him a clear and precise idea of every single thing that we do both in terms of set plays and tactics," said the coach.
"Jason is a highly intelligent player and appears to be relishing the opportunity of playing for us in a big final, which is the biggest thing for me because if he saw it as a bit of a chore then I would have my concerns."
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