The David Corkery column: Munster will need to a slicker style to challenge for European glory

The David Corkery column: Munster will need to a slicker style to challenge for European glory

Munster’s JJ Hanrahan scores a try despite Martin Laveau of Castres. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

NO one ever suggested that this game was going to be easy and no one ever demanded that it needed to be filled with skill and endeavour. 

However, can someone please, please tell me why Munster completely change how they play the game from one week to the next?

Yes, the men in red won by a respectable margin and I do appreciate there are certain components of what you do on the field must be tweaked because of the weather and the quality of the opposition you are playing against. By the same token, Munster will never regain their European crown unless they identify a game-plan that suits their competencies and look to ram it down the throats of the teams they play against.

Just 10 days ago Munster dispensed of a decent Edinburgh side with a spellbinding display of end to end rugby that incorporated some fantastic passages of play. Forwards were popping up in the back line and creating some magical moments of continuity by keeping the ball alive at every conceivable occasion.

Now compare that game to what we witnessed yesterday, and you would think that the team from 10 days ago and the one that played yesterday were coached by two completely different management teams.

The two late Munster changes that saw JJ Hanrahan and Sammy Arnold replace Joey Carbery and Chris Farrell didn’t help the teams preparations, but that still doesn’t explain the complete change of mindset.

When you consider that Munster had opted to kick the ball on six occasions after only four minutes, you just knew it was going to be one of those dull and lacklustre ties.

I appreciate the importance of winning all your home games, especially during the back-to-back weekends but unless you are prepared to hold on to the possession you have fought so hard for in the first place you won't reach the business end of this competition.

Conor Murray of Munster offloads to team-mate CJ Stander. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor Murray of Munster offloads to team-mate CJ Stander. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Going back to the late withdrawals on the Munster side, I think this is something that all the provinces are going to have to get used ahead of the World Cup.

Considering the amount of possession and territory that Munster had in yesterday’s game I think they will be pretty peed off that they didn’t leave Thomond Park with a four-try scoring bonus point. 

With Gloucester surprisingly beating the Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, this pool could very well come down to the smallest of margins where every point available will be worth its weight in gold.

One of the areas that miss-fired on way too many occasions yesterday was the lineout and it is something that is going to need immediate fixing.

To blame Niall Scannell on this occasion would be completely inaccurate and I thought he was retired from his duties way too early in the game.

Too often the hooker is blamed if the target man isn’t hit in the line-out because there are so many variances that need to be actioned successfully if the ball is to be won. 

The biggest issue in yesterdays game was the area of the line-out that the ball was been thrown to, so whoever was deciding this needs to look at the alternatives. It is the hardest area to hit and when it fails the first time it is very hard to rectify.

JJ Hanrahan is starting to look more and more like a fly-half with international qualities with every minute of game time he gets.

And while he might have been fortunate to have obtained the Man of the Match award, he looks a hell of a lot sharper than he did from when he returned home after his stint with the Northampton Saints. He is far leaner and sharper and his increased speed and agility is allowing him to exploit gaps in defences.

Chris Cloete who has blown hot and cold since he arrived in Munster thankfully had one of his more influential games and he was a constant pain for the visitors at the breakdown. Cloete is the kind of player that every opposing scrum-half loathes with a passion because of his ability to steal and slow down the ball at the breakdown. 

The unfortunate thing about having a player with his qualities is that he will never be fully fit and will always be susceptible to obtaining some serious injuries.

Looking ahead to next week’s return fixture, I think it would be fair to suggest that Munster’s internationals will need to up their game. Maybe it’s just me but I thought they looked tired and lacked that bit of sparkle that sets them apart from all the rest.

Hopefully, Carbery and Farrell will be allowed play next weekend because this Castres side will be a completely different prospect in their own back garden.

A win in France will see Munster occupy the prime position in their pool and the most important aspect of that is that their faith will be completely within their own hands.

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