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.