James Simpson-Daniel: Munster are not a bogey team
THE famous Munster choke tackle will squeeze the life out of us at Thomond Park on Saturday night if we let it.
Sale used it to good effect against us in the opening game of the season, when they won 22-16 at Kingsholm.
The technique is to hold players off the ground in the tackle, and deny them the chance to recycle the ball and turn the breakdown into a ruck.
If the ball can't be recycled through a maul either, then the choke tackle has worked – and the defending team win the scrum put-in.
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It's a ploy that cemented Munster's golden generation.
Okay, things are changing over in Limerick as a lot of their long-serving stars are coming towards the end of their careers.
But this is one tactic they do not give up on easily.
We had a taster of it against Sale, so we really ought to know exactly what we're in for when we head over to Ireland.
It will be five times as brutal from the Limerick men, though. Munster are niggly, streetwise and one of the most physical sides around.
The way to combat the choke tackle revolves around good body position going into contact.
You've got to get low and ensure you can present the ball, and the supporting players have to be on the scene of contact rapidly too.
Thomond Park has one of the most ferocious atmospheres out there.
We've got to accept and embrace it and be thick-skinned, not let every cheer or boo get to us.
The 'miracle match' in 2003 was when Munster beat us by the exact 27 points they needed to qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals instead of us. It scarred us for some time – but it doesn't now.
Paul Moriarty made the point that there's only three or four players left in the squad who were involved back then.
And anyway Munster are not a bogey team for us, because we've beaten them at Kingsholm in the past.
We've got nothing to fear from the past, we just need to get stuck into what we can achieve now.
James Hook can still play for Wales
I HOPE James Hook’s Wales career is not over.
The versatile playmaker and goal-kicker is just too good to ignore.
He showed all his class in our 27-22 victory over Perpignan last weekend.
I know Wales rate Leigh Halfpenny hugely, and I can completely understand why, he is class.
But you always need options, and Hook will certainly give you that.
He and Halfpenny are vastly different players, and that’s the kind of variety that can really add an extra dimension to a squad.
At 28 Hook is still plenty young enough to add to his tally of caps, and I honestly hope he does.