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'My kids probably see it and feel it, my wife will feel it and see it, rather than me'

Munster head coach Anthony Foley hopes a win in Thomond Park this weekend will lift the pressure.

ANTHONY FOLEY COULD have been forgiven for acting defensively and even aggressively when it was suggested to him that bringing in Andy Farrell was a potential solution to Munster’s travails.

Instead, the 42-year-old gave almost instant approval. No one in the world wants to see Munster turn the ship around more than Foley.

Andy Farrell and Anthony Foley Foley with new Munster consultant Andy Farrell. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

When Munster’s CEO Garrett Fitzgerald and Professional Games Board chairman John Kelly approached Foley with the plan last Thursday, he says his reaction was entirely positive.

“It was a very short conversation to be honest with you,” said Foley in Limerick yesterday. “I think it was something that I couldn’t, as a professional, turn my nose up to.

“I saw it as a great opportunity to get somebody with vast experience in around the playing group and coaching group. [Someone] that has had very good highs in his career and had a few lows along the way, and been able to manage the both of them, and look at it from a different point of view.

He wouldn’t have been in a Munster changing room or a Munster meeting room, so he can come in with fresh views, ideas, different ways of looking at stuff in terms of being in and around training.”

What else could Foley say in these circumstances? Of course he has to share his positive viewpoint of the move, but the sense yesterday was that it is genuinely something the head coach welcomes.

He has moved beyond the point of frustration in attempting to rectify Munster’s problems, he has lost his patience. It might not reflect well on his own stewardship of the team, but Foley suggested that rejecting the idea would have been the cowardly thing to do.

“You can’t shy away from it and see it as a weakness. You see it as a challenge and you see it as an opportunity to learn a bit further.”

While Farrell’s job brief is to act as a consultant to the coaching staff at Munster for the rest of the season, Foley says he has no issues with the Englishman also meeting the province’s players for discussion and feedback.

Anthony Foley The Munster head coach hopes his side will be well supported. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Foley’s belief is that the new face and voice can “add a bit of impetus” to Munster’s effort to turn their run of six defeats in seven games around. He is desperate for a win at home to Stade Français on Saturday, even if it remains a Champions Cup dead rubber.

“A win this weekend would give a lot of confidence to the players, give a lot of belief back into the group, to the people around the group, might take a bit of pressure off our family and friends, the stick that is being given out,” said Foley.

“Because, being honest with you, it is a cocoon at times. I often think, ‘I would hate to be yer man Anthony Foley out there because he is obviously getting an awful doing!’ I don’t feel it, I don’t see it.

My mother and father probably feel it and see it and my kids probably see it and feel it, my wife will feel it and see it rather than me. We’ve got to play for them and we’ve got to play for the fact that they might get a bit of a respite for a week until maybe we lose again. It is important for our point of view that we do that.”


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Foley would also love to see Munster’s famous support turn out in force at Thomond Park, even after this poor run of results and form.

The province say they have sold 17,000 tickets for the Champions Cup tie, and Foley is adamant that it’s vital for fans to remain behind the province.

“It is important the boys are supported,” said Foley. “It is easy to support a side on the crest of a wave, I think sometimes this is the moment we see what our supporters are about and from my experience with them these are the times where they have stood up and lifted the team.

Anthony Foley Foley feels Munster need a win on Saturday to lift the heat on them. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I got back to 2000 in Twickenham. I think we were at the bottom of a barrel and we were lifted and got a bit of momentum then going forward. I just think it is important that now we see our true supporters and the people who will stand by us.”

Foley confirmed that Tommy O’Donnell and Jack O’Donoghue are working through the return-to-play protocols after concussions in Paris last weekend, but stressed the importance of looking after the “wellbeing” of the players and not rushing them back.

Andrew Conway is nursing a hip injury after a heavy collision forced him to be replaced in the first half of the Stade defeat, while BJ Botha is unlikely to feature this weekend due to his knee issue.

Donnacha is expected back in full training on Thursday after completing rehab running yesterday, but the saga with Tyler Bleyendaal is ongoing.

The Kiwi import – who is on a lucrative contract that runs until 2017 – has been able to feature only five times this season due to a hugely frustrating quad issue. Having attempted to allow Bleyendaal play his way back to fitness, Foley admitted the situation had gone into more serious territory and needed to be rectified.

“It is a frustrating for all of us now at the moment,” said Foley. “It is a frustration for the lad and we are going to get to the bottom of this, try and get him up and running.

“I just think we have to get to the bottom of it. I think to be fair to him and to be fair to everyone around the squad as well we need to investigate it and we are doing that on Wednesday.”

Munster CEO says Anthony Foley is the right man to guide the province forward

Andy Farrell will initially work with Munster two training days each week

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Murray Kinsella

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