JJ Hanrahan believes that Munster are well placed to end their decade-long trophy drought this season but warns that they need to continue to build on their great start to the season.

"There definitely is confidence within the group," the out-half told RTÉ Sport. "I think we have a nice mixture of youth and experience, which is very important.

"The younger lads coming through have done a massive job in the start of the season and our internationals coming back and adding that world class has been really important.

"We feel like we're in a good position but in rugby, the past doesn’t matter. As much as it’s great to have that confidence behind you, everything is about the moment and looking forward.

"We’ve got to make sure we keep working and getting better every day."

Munster had won every game in Europe and the Pro14 this season until last weekend's defeat to Ulster - a game for which they made 10 changes.

The province still top Conference B, eight points clear of Connacht, who they face at The Sportsground on Saturday with the sole post-season spot available still very much in the balance.

"We fell off the horse a bit last weekend but that's why we’re hungry to get back on it this weekend," said Hanrahan, who did not play in Belfast.

"We know the format of the season and we know where we need to finish. We are in a good position but that means nothing going into this weekend.

"Connacht are pressing hard and everything is about this weekend and this weekend only. We’re not going to think any further down the line.

Munster will have a full complement to pick from on Saturday but it's hard not to feel that the appeal of the interprovincial fixtures has dimmed somewhat given the extensive squad rotation now practised by teams. 

However, Hanrahan believes that the limits the IRFU's player management programme puts on game time for internationals is also important in opening the door to the next generation of stars.

"You can’t really play 30 games in a row," he said. "There has to be opportunity for other players to play as well, that’s how you see younger talent coming through, for example someone like Gavin Coombes.

"If we’re playing the so-called 'best players’ every day then where’s the opportunity to blood new talent?

"I think that’s really important for squad dynamic and Irish dynamic."

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The competitiveness of the Pro14 at the moment is also open to question - Scarlets are the only team outside of the four Irish provinces to have a winning record - but that looks set to change with the upcoming Rainbow Cup, which will feature South Africa's four former Super Rugby teams.

"That’s where you want to be, you want to be playing against the best quality as much as possible," said Hanrahan.

"For example, you see the Bulls and the back row they will have next season if we’re playing them.

"It’s a massive challenge for us but that’s where we want to be."

Follow Leinster v Ulster (7.35pm Friday) and Connacht v Munster (7.35pm Saturday) via our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and RTÉ Radio 1. 

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