WE take on Munster at Rodney Parade on Saturday and are determined to finish a block of tough fixtures strongly before a fortnight off for the start of the Six Nations.

We had a good Christmas period that featured battling defeats at Cardiff Blues and the Scarlets either side of us ending our derby hoodoo against the Ospreys.

After a comprehensive win against Timisoara Saracens we were well aware of the challenge that we faced last week against one of the top sides in Europe.

We saw when Clermont Auvergne visited Rodney Parade that having a bigger selection of bigger men thanks to a bigger pot of money makes a big difference on the pitch. Rumour has it that their academy budget is bigger than our entire one.

Nonetheless, it was a disappointing result regardless of the quality in Clermont's side. It was a tough game to watch and the boys were frustrated about their defence afterwards.

They said that they were putting big shots in but their big blokes just had the pure strength, plus great skill, to absorb the tackle and offload. The boys were putting the hits in but Clermont were riding them well.

Our defence record this season isn't one to be proud of but over the Christmas period, with another change after academy manager James Chapron came in to help, we conceded just four tries in three derbies.

A change in mentality and tactics is what was needed and did us well in those key games against quality attacking opposition.

But it was different against Clermont when even their 'second string' was full of internationals and incredible talent; it was similar when we went to Northampton in December.

Welsh squads are thinner and we will be without our Six Nations contingent for the next few weeks.

The boys that played against the Top 14 leaders last week will be in action against Munster on Saturday and they will be the ones having to hold the fort week in, week out for the majority of next season.

There is the World Cup, the recovery period after it and then the Six Nations – times like this will show the value of having a strong squad and the players that will be there throughout the league and European campaigns.

Hopefully it will be different type of game against Munster on Saturday in what will be another tough test, even if they are without their Ireland internationals.

I've written many times about the likes of Leinster, Munster and Glasgow coming over with hungry 'second string' teams desperate to impress, although they also usually still boast internationals and experience in key positions.

We realise the challenge ahead for the rest of the season and want to start with the boys putting in a big performance to respond to their disappointment against Clermont with a big display against another top side.