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'Munster need to take a deep breath and be given a year or two to develop'

Speaking on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, Andy Dunne urged people to be patient.

WITH A FAIR degree of gloom and pessimism surrounding Munster as they face into a make-or-break European clash with Racing 92, Andy Dunne has urged the province and their supporters to be patient.

Speaking on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, former Leinster and Connacht out-half Dunne said all involved with the province need to take a deep breath as their development continues.

niall-scannell Munster suffered a disappointing defeat to Ulster last weekend. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Senior coach Stephen Larkham joined Munster for the start of the current season, while forwards coach Graham Rowntree only came on board after the World Cup, which also deprived head coach Johann van Graan of 12 key players for the early stages of the campaign.

With Munster facing a pool-stage exit from the Heineken Champions Cup if they lose to Racing on Sunday and after a poor inter-provincial series over the festive period, pressure has been building on van Graan’s side.

Last weekend’s Pro14 defeat away to Ulster was a particularly disappointing affair as Munster were battered in the collisions, with the loss in Belfast meaning the southern province have won only two of their last seven games coming into this weekend.

The latest injury to out-half Joey Carbery and worries over JJ Hanrahan’s hamstring issue have only added to the negativity around the province.

But Dunne stressed that Munster’s new-look coaching team will need time to genuinely improve their squad and underlined that those around the province need to be calm even if Munster do fail to advance to the Champions Cup quarter-finals. 

“They look at a low ebb,” said Dunne on The42 Rugby Weekly. “Something that you would always hope for from Munster in a Christmas inter-pro or a big game is that they’re at the right pitch in terms of how they show up physically. That’s a baseline requirement.

“I never actually beat a Munster team. I had an 11-year professional career and never won against Munster. Now, they were peak level at that stage and the one thing you came up against was unrelenting physicality throughout the game and it was constant. 

“That unrelenting physicality has gone, which is worrying.

“The mitigating factor in that, potentially, is with a Larkham and Rowntree coaching combination coming in, they’re focusing in training on trying to change things about how they play and they’re falling between two stools in that players are trying to implement things the coaches want, players are learning what the coaches want, coaches are learning about the players.

munster-players-dejected-after-conceding Dunne thinks Munster will be better in the long-term. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“In that process of change, which is necessary, their baseline stuff they’ve turned up with for years, you’ve taken some focus off it. I think that’s acceptable as a reason why their physicality would drop because they’re trying to learn things.

“I think Munster, their support base, their most loyal fans, their management team, and their bosses as well, probably need to collectively take a deep breath and say the team needs to develop a sense of identity now and be given a bit of time in the next year or two with two excellent, world-class coaches in Rowntree and Larkham.

“Allow them to develop. We demand instantaneous success all the time, we’ve demanded that in Irish rugby for years and it’s to our detriment because we don’t turn up at World Cups.

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“We’re great to win the next Six Nations game but where are we actually going over a longer period? 

“If Munster take a deep breath for a year or two, I think they can come out of this in the next 18 months but I don’t think they can come out of it in the next six weeks.

“The coaches should be given a bit of time and younger players will come through and they might sign a few big names. But I don’t think it’s as bad as everyone sees they are currently presenting, I just think they’re at a bit of a low ebb right now.

“I think that will come around.”

Elsewhere on this week’s episode of the podcast, host Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella, and Dunne discussed the latest injury for the luckless Carbery, the ongoing fallout at Saracens, Leinster’s impressive culture, Ulster’s in-form Ireland contenders, and Connacht’s bid to get their show back on the road.

Andy Dunne joined Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey in studio for the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly to chat about Joey Carbery, Munster’s season, and much more. 

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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