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'They've been under a cloud of pressure': Rassie pleased for players after topping table

The South African was also happy to see Conor Murray in ‘solid’ form on his return from injury.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

RASSIE ERASMUS’ IMPACT on Munster since arriving in Ireland last July has been undeniable.

Today, he cemented the southern province on the top of the Guinness Pro12, overtaking Leinster in the final table thanks to a seven-try thrashing of Connacht.

The South African, however, is adept at deflecting praise for his work even when its laid out in tangible terms like turning last season’s sixth-placed team into the number one seed for the Pro12 playoffs.

While never veering far from the caveat that silverware is still two very large steps away, Erasmus is delighted that his squad can take satisfaction after a long 12-month journey.

“I’m just glad for the players,” Erasmus said after the 50 – 14 win over last season’s champions.

I wasn’t here last year when they had to play Scarlets and Edinburgh just to qualify for Europe and the pressure was on. I think it’s been constant pressure on the coaching team and Garrett (Fitzgerald) the CEO and the whole club to do well.

“The players have been playing under a cloud of pressure since April/May last year, right through until now. I’m glad for them, because they’ve really worked hard.

“Obviously, we haven’t won anything. But to top the table is, I guess a little satisfaction, but it’s not the ultimate thing. We would really like to get through a semi-final, but the players deserve a lot of credit.”

The positive feelings and signs of momentum from the men in red were manifold in Limerick. On top of some sensational scoring moves and avoiding Scarlets – the only team to beat them in Thomond Park this season – Conor Murray was back on a rugby field after two months out with a shoulder injury picked up during Ireland’s Six Nations loss to Wales.

“He was looking solid,” said the former Springbok.

Conor Murray and James Cronin after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m so glad he came through the week. We all thought this would have happened five or six weeks ago.

“It was tough to lose a European semi-final. I always think what would have happened if he was there but then I thought Duncan (Williams) played so well there.

“We didn’t jeopardise his career. We didn’t take unnecessary risks. This was the time to bring him back. I think he looked pretty sharp and hopefully tomorrow morning when he wakes up, he doesn’t have too many symptoms or after effects. That’s positive.”

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