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'There was a fear' - Murray relieved Rassie is staying as Munster build

Now a senior player in the squad, the scrum-half is positive about the province’s future.

WHILE DISAPPOINTMENT LINGERS in Munster over their Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Saracens, these are exciting times for the province.

There is a home Guinness Pro12 semi-final to look forward to in two weekends’ time, and with Rassie Erasmus having confirmed that he will definitely be with Munster next season, their progress should continue beyond the summer.

Rassie Erasmus Erasmus said he is staying with Munster into next season. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The South African has made a major impression alongside assistant Jacques Nienaber since joining at the start of the campaign and news that the SARU were doing their best to lure him home was understandably met with dismay by Munster fans.

Even though he is a senior player within the Munster squad, scrum-half Conor Murray says he was in the dark as to Erasmus’ thinking and that the news of his decision to remain on Irish soil was a major relief.

“I never knew,” said Murray. “We knew as much as you did, genuinely.

“I wouldn’t say it to him, but I just hoped he would stay and I knew there was rumours out there about returning to South Africa and things like that, and yeah there was a fear he would leave but I didn’t know where he stood or what his plans were.

“It’s great because obviously it was a worry, obviously we were talking about it to each other in different groups, and for me it would have been unbelievably frustrating to see another coach go and then have a new coach come in.

“To see who we would have brought in, get to know him, learn a new game plan, all those kinds of things that are really frustrating, whereas with Rassie staying and Jacques, Fla [Jerry Flannery] and Felix [Jones], who are doing an awesome job, we know we’re on an upward curve.

“We know we are in a really good place, so we can continue growing that way rather than tossing Rassie’s game plan aside, a new guy come in and and have to do that.

“And it’s not just the coaching and the playing. Off the pitch, there’s just a really good vibe around the place, a really good buzz, and everyone’s really enjoying it, so it’s so important.

Munster’s Conor Murray Murray will be back in Munster colours for the season's run-in. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“We all suffered when we lost the semi final and it wasn’t nice but with Rassie’s announcement pretty soon after, that kind of perked you up a little bit because we know we’re in a good place.”

Murray underlines that Munster’s move to one training centre, their impressive high performance centre in UL, has been vital to their improvement on the pitch this season, but there’s no doubt Erasmus and Nienaber have brought a new philosophy.

The Munster game plan certainly leans on the province’s traditional strengths in the maul and kicking exchanges, as well as through their work rate and ball-carrying, but Murray has enjoyed the mindset Erasmus and Nienaber have brought to it all.

“It’s kind of the style of play we’ve been brought up playing but it’s just the way they coach it, and the way they’ve gotten it across, it’s been really effective,” says Murray.

“They’ve backed us. I think one of the biggest things with Rassie and Jacques is they don’t mind you losing a battle or missing a tackle, just as long as you get back up and you get back into the fight and get into another battle and try to win that.

“I know we have Jaco and Francis and a few newer guys in but the majority of the squad have played together for a long time under Rob Penney, under Axel, and now under Rassie, so it’s just a confidence and belief in each other.

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“Maybe before, we’d be afraid to make a mistake whereas now you go out and… you’re not laidback about making a mistake, but if you make a mistake you’re not going to get called out on a Monday in a video session in front of everyone.

“It happens, everyone misses a tackle, everyone has a bad game, everyone makes a mistake, but mentally are you willing to get back into the fight and risk it again and just keep putting yourself out there, which is a hard thing to do for certain players, but he’s just backed everyone and everyone’s really confident under him.”

Conor Murray Murray is a Maximuscle brand ambassador. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While the Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens – which Murray missed through injury – was desperately frustrating for Munster, a Pro12 title is up for grabs this month and the fit-again scrum-half is keen to play a big part in that final push.

“Obviously the chance to win the European Cup would have been awesome, particularly with the year we had with Axel and the attachment he had to European rugby, it would have been awesome.

“But we’re in a good place and we’re going to continue to work really hard under Rassie and hopefully we’ll stay up there and push on and get into a couple of finals and compete for trophies.”

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Murray Kinsella

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