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Munster's game plan won't change as Murray looks to ease fans' frustration

The 26-year-old doesn’t think Ian Keatley needs special treatment this week.

JUDGING FROM THE outside, the presumption is that Munster is a pretty gloomy place to be right now.

Every mention of the province this week has been negative, whether in relation to their form, their fans, their out-half or the prospect of their head coach having his contract extended by a year.

Conor Murray Conor Murray is remaining positive ahead of the weekend. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Rugby players and coaches can be incredibly insular, and while Anthony Foley admitted spirits might be down after three consecutive defeats, Munster are heading into Sunday’s Champions Cup return leg against Leicester with belief in their ability to win.

That might fly in the face of the form book and the probability that the Tigers will improve on last weekend’s winning performance, but scrum-half Conor Murray says Munster have no choice but to approach Sunday with positivity.

“Saturday, after the game in the dressing room was very, very quiet, very disappointing,” says Murray.”Probably the day after it’s kind of negative and it takes you a little bit of time to get over that.

“But as professional athletes we have to get over that quicker than supporters or anyone else and try and rebuild and go again. We are not going to try and reinvent the way we play. I think we are very happy with the structure we have.

We just need to tighten up on a few areas and be really positive. There are going to be people writing us off and that is to be expected. When you do lose at Thomond, it is a tough thing to take, but Munster have a good record at Welford Road.

“It is a place I’m really looking forward to going and playing. I really enjoyed last week, bar the defeat. When we were playing good stuff, it was really good and really enjoyable. As a squad we are remaining positive and really tight.”

These backs-to-the-wall weeks are when leaders like Murray prove themselves invaluable and the Ireland scrum-half did his best to lift the spirits by declaring his intention to sign a new contract to keep him at Munster beyond next summer.

That brief bit of positive news was fighting against the tide of frustration and pessimism, however, with far more focus on news that head coach Foley is set to sign a new deal and the fall-out from the ironic cheer aimed at Ian Keatley last weekend.

Conor Murray Munster's game plan revolves around the Ireland scrum-half. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Murray says it was something he didn’t hear at the time, but also calls is “disappointing.”


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“I’ve got to stress that is was only a very, very small section who made a very small amount of noise,” continues Murray. ”We are proud about what we do and who we represent.

“We don’t go out and try and make mistakes as individuals or as a squad. We are all hurting this week. That is an easy thing for people to look at, maybe missed kicks here or there, whatever, but there were a lot of other individuals, myself included, that made mistakes which led to Leicester stressing us or even scoring.

“It is disappointing, but again 99% of our fans are really loyal and there is a great bond there between players and supporters so that little section is disappointing, but that is just the way it went.

It is frustrating for fans looking at a team losing and I can assure you it is very frustrating for players. We have to remain tight this week and try and turn it around together.”

Murray doesn’t think Keatley needs any extra support from his teammates this weekend, pointing out that the out-half knows better than anyone that he delivered a below-par performance.

“Any time I’ve seen him play not as well as he can, I’ve seen him respond really well the following week and that’s the sign of a mentally strong player,” says Murray. “We’re all big enough, old enough and brave enough to not need that arm around the shoulder.

“Obviously, we’re not going to avoid him or shy away from him. He came in on Monday morning and attacked the week in a really positive way which is great to see and while people can almost rally around him, he’s not looking for sympathy.

“We’ve all been there and had bad performances and responded the week after so I’ve no fear about Keats this week.”

Conor Murray The 26-year-old wants to stay at Munster beyond this season. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There have been mutterings of discontent among Munster supporters around the tactics employed by Foley’s side, although that discontent is perhaps based more on the unforced errors rather than the actual shape and plays Foley’s side are employing.

Murray insists that Munster are creating good opportunities with their attacking shape, but just have to find the finishing touches and shore up their defensive errors.

Absolutely not,” says Murray when asked if they need to change the game plan. “When we attacked, our shape looked really good and we did stress them. Defensively we leaked tries, our set-piece went wrong, a couple of tackles were missed, but that’s nothing to do with the attack.

“As a group we have full faith that the way we’re playing can cause teams problems. Over the last few seasons I haven’t enjoyed playing in an attacking structure as much as this, because I feel we have the tools to cause teams problems and stress them.

“Maybe it was tough for us after the game but we have to remain positive. It has been working for us so far this season. Obviously the last three weeks haven’t gone to plan but before that we won six out of seven and played some really good rugby. We’re focused on remaining the same and being more clinical and being a stronger defensive outfit.”

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