‘Munster are The Inbetweeners now… What are they trying to do?’
‘Munster are The Inbetweeners now… What are they trying to do?’

‘Munster are The Inbetweeners now… What are they trying to do?’

ON AN ESPECIALLY meaty episode of The42 Rugby Weekly this week, Andy Dunne and Murray Kinsella sat down in studio with Gavan Casey to discuss where Leinster can improve upon their performance in a stunning victory over Andy’s beloved Toulouse, and why they’re each leaning in opposite directions ahead of what will be the most eagerly anticipated European decider ever.

Jordi Murphy also joined Sean Farrell to discuss life up north with Ulster, but before all of that, Murray, Andy and Gavan sunk their teeth into Munster’s comprehensive Heineken Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens.

Among the areas discussed were the whispers of Munster adding a marquee signing or two this summer and whether or not the addition of big ball carriers would even make a difference to the southern province in their current guise, which Andy believes to be far too ambiguous for Johann van Grann’s men to hang with Europe’s true contenders.

You can listen to the podcast in full in the SoundCloud link above, on iTunes, or on your regular podcast provider, but if you’ve forgotten your headphones or you can’t quite get away with popping them on in the office, here’s a taster of the lads’ Munster chat (which also features Andy’s hatred of the box-kick’s influence on Irish rugby):

Andy Dunne: “Tongue-in-cheek, we’re talking about Game of Thrones and Murray being the Three-Eyed Raven, you talk about box sets, Munster are The Inbetweeners now. They are. Because they don’t have a definitive style.

“They’re literally in between two ends of the spectrum. They don’t know whether they’re a territory team — they didn’t play territory against Sarries. They didn’t penetrate the line, they didn’t try offloads, they didn’t look to attack space.

“What they did was vanilla kind of rugby — three-phase power plays done in front of the best defence in Europe who just scanned the field, watched them do it and closed them down. At no stage were they [Saracens] under threat as a defence.

“I think there’s a problem with Munster around that. Find out what works for that group and commit to it and do it.

“I think they should go with a strong territory game, and that includes with Joey Carbery at 10. I think they should go back to choking teams, squeezing them.

Gavan Casey: “Alan Quinlan?”

AD: “Quinny again, yeah!”

“They’ve actually a better squad now than they’ve had in the last three or four seasons, but it’s very non-committal, safe rugby.”

Johann van Graan stands dejected as Peter O’Mahony is interviewed post-Sarries. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Murray Kinsella: “I think their squad is stronger, certainly, but let’s also factor in the fact that Carbery and [Keith] Earls were missing.

“They did miss those two players — they’re your two most creative, attacking backs, and you need them fit.

“I think for Munster again it’s looking at, ‘How can we actually improve?’ We can talk about loads of issues within the game, but they’ll probably look at their squad and say, ‘Is there scope for more from the outside?’

“To look at it with a critical eye, in their pack, is there enough ball-carrying dynamism? Because you look at Sarries’ pack, it was ridiculous — every single one of them, essentially, can break the gain line. Munster don’t quite have that.

“And then there is a bit of chat that they’re looking at a marqueee signing in the backline — Jaco Taute is obviously leaving so there goes one of the NIQ spots.

“But right now, they’re not at Sarries’ or Leinster’s level, and that’s been made clear once again.”

Owen Farrell consoles Munster’s players. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

AD: “But if you’re to add one or two ball-carriers and still play that middle-ground style, it’s not going to make a difference. The fact that they don’t have a lot of ball-carriers lends itself further to the fact that they could play a territory game.

“They’ve a really, really strong scrum — John Ryan and Kleyn in behind him haven’t gone backwards once all year. They’ve a super-tight, really well-run scrum that could really squeeze teams and creak teams.

“But they’re not doing that. Then they’re going, ‘Let’s go get some new ball-carriers.’ It’s not going to solve the issue. It’s a coaching issue, and they have to get clarity.”

MK: “But I think that [territory] is their gameplan. They box-kick out of their own half more than any other team in order to gain territory. They hound after kicks generally. I think in this game [v Sarries], that was also the plan but I think Saracens did the same to them so well that they didn’t have a chance; they were pinned back in their half and they had to defend so much.

“I think they probably were trying to play that territory game, but because of the poor aerial contest they just gave up.”

AD: “But I don’t think it works, the territory game playing off nine — these high box kicks. It’s not really a territory game. That’s a kicking game that surrenders possession with a kick-chase trying to win it back.

MK: “I think the Irish teams have done it particularly well…”

AD: “We did it great for about a year, and then everyone’s onto it. Like, it’s over now.

“If you look at Murray, who obviously is a very good box-kicker — once it’s not overused, it can be reused occasionally with effect. You’ve Carbery who can kick off both feet, and you’ve [Rory] Scannell who’s a left-footer. The amount of options that gives you as a backline to kick territory effectively…

“If you go back to that All Blacks Test in 2012 and watch that first 20-odd minutes, they didn’t just do box kicks from their own 22. They did a whole range of kicks. At no stage were they under pressure in their own half, and then eventually a team starts to creak and do stupid things.

MK: “Do you think that squad is good enough to win a Champions Cup?”

AD: “I actually think they could, yes, but they would have to be at literally 95%-plus, with everybody fit, with a bit of luck. But I do think they could win.

“It’s a huge change — it takes massive leadership for a head coach to commit to a certain style. And then it takes the buy-in of the senior players.

“Up in the northern hemisphere, there are too many coaches who want to control everything and have massive input in all phases of play. In New Zealand, they’re the total opposite and they’re the best in the world, yet nobody’s copying them.

“Eight months later, when you haven’t worked and worked and worked, and been prepared to lose away to Zebre while trying to play a certain style, you end up in third gear; even though your effort is in fifth gear, your play is in third gear when it comes down to it against Sarries.

“I think Munster need to commit to a style. In that way, their current squad — optimised — could win a European Cup.

“But the mistake would be, now, to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get rid of three or four good players and bring in three marquee guys who are going to have to fit into this cloudy gameplan.”

Felix Jones and Jerry Flannery. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

GC: “There is talk of bringing in reinforcements in midfield, and bringing in a marquee guy. We know, probably, it’s going to be at 12 because you’re not dropping Chris Farrell. We also know Rory Scannell is a super player, by the way. But, if you’re going to drop one or the other, at the moment it would be Scannell. And he probably is underutilised in that he’s an incredibly good footballer but they just don’t deploy that in any way, shape or form. So then he [hypothetically] falls by the wayside and you bring in some brute?

MK: “Rory Scannell can pass off both sides really well. I’ve written in pieces about him being that second playmaker, but he’s not really used that way.”

AD & GC: “No.”

MK: “He actually carries more than he passes.”

AD: “That’s because they’re in the middle ground.”

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to get stuck into last weekend’s Champions Cup semi-finals.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

Click Here: new zealand chiefs rugby jersey