What next for Munster rugby? David Corkery asks the hard questions...

What next for Munster rugby? David Corkery asks the hard questions...

Munster head coach Johann van Graan hasn't delivered what the province need according to David Corkery. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

IF tennis ace and current World Number 1 Novak Djokovic, could be expelled from the US Open for accidentally hitting a line judge with a ball then, I think most people would agree with me when I suggest that Johann van Graan should be banned from ever going near any Munster player in the future.

I say this because of the pain and suffering the South African is imposing on those of us who follow Munster with such pride.

If Djokovic can be given a red card for doing something in error, then surely van Graan and his coaching ticket should be treated the same because of how they are instructing their players to play the game.

Not only is he causing every Munster fan that ever supported the men in red much distress, but it is also restraining the players within the squad from gaining international recognition.

Conor Murray is a quality player, but if you were to watch him play for Munster, you’d easily be forgiven for thinking he had no idea what he was doing.

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Just remember it is the coaches' game-plan that the players have to adhere to.

So, every time Conor Murray kicks the ball in the air in the hope that his chasing runners might be fortunate enough to win it back, it is van Graan that is commanding him to do so.

I would like to think that some of the senior players would have had the guts to question van Graan on his directives, however, this is clearly not the case, because it is the same auld shite that is offered up week after week.

An expression that I often refer to myself when things are not working out as I had exactly planned is: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”.

This saying has been credited to the automotive tycoon Henry Ford.

I fully realise that coaching is a very difficult job, however, when you remain loyal to a philosophy that has unequivocally failed time after time and you refuse to alter how you achieve your desired goals, you fully deserve the backlash of negativity you are going to receive.

Unless van Graan comes out publicly in the next few weeks and shoulders the liability for how his players have been playing and declares that he needs to change his way of thinking, I really believe he should be sent packing.

Watching another season of CJ Stander and his fellow forwards running down blind alleys and getting smashed back, whilst Murray and Hanrahan kick the leather off the ball is something I don’t think I could stomach.

I’d be very happy to watch Munster lose games if there was a long-term goal at the end of it.

A goal that saw Munster rugby looking to move away from their traditional forward domineering trademark and onto a style that encompasses width and continuity.

Professional rugby is a ruthless environment that normally holds no prisoners and if Munster’s new CEO Ian Flanagan, who has been very quiet over the last few months is serious about getting Munster back to trophy-winning days, he must be callous in his approach in doing so.

Van Graan has had three years at the helm now and the return for investment has come nowhere close to the required level that a province like Munster necessitates.

I am cognisant that the last few years have been filled with very sad and mentally draining tragedy’s however, we must drive on and the only way to honour Anthony Foley’s, Gareth Fitzgerald’s and Paul Darbyshire’s passing is to surpass the legacies they worked so hard to achieve.

For years now, we have been listening to how Munster need more quality players in their ranks and that the only way to achieve this was by importing from South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

Personally, I am not a big fan of this method. It is very expensive; it curtails the development of our homegrown talent; and just because these players have proven their worth in their own land, there is no guarantee they will be just as efficient in a different jersey.

I can only imagine how players like Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Alex McHenry, Fineen Wycherley, Eoin O’Connor (Academy) and Thomas Ahern (Academy) must have felt when Damian De Allende and RJ Snyman were announced.

Some would argue that the province is not that far off where they need to be. Well if these people feel that having an empty trophy cabinet for over 10 years is acceptable, can I suggest that they stop commenting and voicing their opinion because they are talking rubbish.

The solution for Munster rugby going forward is very simple.

Change with the times and how the game is being played today or continue to look for excuses. Where once we lived in anticipation, we now live in hope. That’s not the Munster way.

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