David Corkery on rugby: Munster must prove they can go to the next level

Glasgow display was a wake-up call for the Reds and it won't get any easier in South Africa this weekend
David Corkery on rugby: Munster must prove they can go to the next level

Munster’s Gavin Coombes wins a lineout at Thomond Park. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

A MAJOR loss in momentum or a kick in the ass at the right time?

Last week during Munster’s URC encounter they trailed a decent Glasgow side 28-0 at the sound of the half-time whistle.

Yes, that’s correct, it’s not a misprint, 28 points was the margin that divided the two sides as they made their way down the tunnel and into their respective dressing rooms. 

And, to make matters worse for Munster, the game was being played in Thomond Park.

Now I’m open to correction, but I don’t think Munster have ever shipped such a heavy battering on the scoreboard in any opening 40 minutes of any game they ever played in Limerick and I’d say the Glasgow players were probably more surprised than Munster as they sat down for their half-time instructions.

At the end of the game, the scoreboard looked a bit more respectable with Graham Rowntree’s men pulling up their socks in the second half and out-scoring their visitors by four tries to one. However, you would have to think that Glasgow probably took their foot off the gas knowing that the result was already a foregone conclusion.

I guess by the end of tomorrow’s game against South Africa’s Cell C Sharks in Durban we’ll have a pretty good idea as to what kind of psychological damage was caused by last week’s loss. Munster are often able to turn adversity into success and what better opportunity to prove themselves than jumping on a plane, travel 9,000 miles and lock horns with a side that is going to be packed to the rafters with seasoned Springbok players?

Lukhanyo Am, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche are just some of the South African players that will be lacing up their boots in front of their home supporters and whilst the Llanelli Scarlets managed to ambush them last week, playing them on their own turf is a completely different kettle of fish.

Munster must be ready to go to war from start to finish.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Munster head coach Graham Rowntree. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Rowntree will have the pleasure of having an almost full deck of cards to pick from for this game as he welcomes back Peter O’Mahony and Conon Murray from their Six Nations exploits.

Murray will be chewing at the bit to start in this game, but I’d say O’Mahony could probably do with another few weeks to recoup after his hell-for-leather performances in helping Ireland win their fourth-ever Grand Slam title.


The other player who will probably start in this game is the fit again RG Snyman. It is very hard to even try to fathom the kind of mental anguish that Snyman had to go through in order to overcome the rupture and re-rupture of his ACL.

The shelf life of a world-class forward is rather limited unless you are either very lucky or you tend to not throw yourself around the pitch. So when you consider that this 6’10” giant had to go almost 16 months wondering whether or not he’d ever grace the playing surface again, it is a credit to the 28-year-old’s mental resilience and physical determination that he is back and rearing to go.

I guess it will be open to interpretation as to whether the World Cup winner will be the same player and have the same kind of impact as he did before his injuries. However, I like everyone else, really wish him all the very best.

These are the once-in-a-season kind of games that can either sink your aspirations or propel them onto the next level and I really hope for Rowntree and his coaching staff that the real Munster turns up for this game.

Apart from a poor start to the season, which is understandable when you have a new coaching ticket take over, all the signs up to last weekend have been very positive. While we all know that Munster are still a good two to three seasons away from winning a trophy, it is imperative that the trajectory of progression remains on an upward curve and the hard calls that need to be made are done so.

One of those hard calls that I talk about is of course the selection of the most important player on the pitch and that is the person who has the remit of wearing the number 10 jersey.

I think it is fair to suggest at this point that Joey Carberry is not going to be Munster’s long-term solution to filling the void that Ronan O’Gara created. 

It just seems daft that Jack Crowley isn’t now handed the jersey for a prolonged period where he has time to prove his worth.

Crowley has already surpassed Carbery in Andy Farrell’s eyes and it is only a matter of time before Farrell starts to dictate that Crowley plays at ten in the red jersey.

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

If Farrell does not have a prepared backup for Sexton come the commencement of the World Cup, Ireland’s aspirations of grandeur will be dramatically diminished.

A win might be a long shot on this occasion, but an 80-minute performance of substance is a must.

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