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'We’ve had a disappointing start, I’m not going to shy away from that'

Graham Rowntree believes Munster’s issues can be fixed very quickly.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree.
Munster head coach Graham Rowntree.
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

GRAHAM ROWNTREE SAYS Munster won’t shy away from the fact that their start to the season hasn’t been good enough.

The southern province have lost their first two games under the new head coach, coming out on the wrong side of trips to Cardiff and Dragons. This weekend, they face Zebre in what is already a must-win URC fixture.

The Italian side have impressed against Leinster and the Sharks in their two opening games, coming close to causing shocks in both of those ties.

“They’ve scored some good tries, haven’t they?” said Rowntree of this Saturday’s visitors to Cork. “They’re coming over full of confidence, crikey, they’re playing quick.

“We certainly can’t play too loosely against them but it’s another chance for us to right our wrongs.

“We’ve had a disappointing start to the season, I’m not going to shy away from that.”

The performance against Dragons last time out was very poor, with Munster struggling in many different areas. Rowntree saw lots of different deficiencies in his team’s display and he said that the early stages of this week have not been easy. 

“Not good, I’m not going to shy away from that. I certainly didn’t and the players haven’t.

“We’ve addressed it. We had a long journey home, a quick few hours at home with the family on Monday and back in on Tuesday fixing it, looking at it, being honest.

“It was a very honest review and we move forward.”

dan-goggin-dejected Munster had a tough afternoon against Dragons on Sunday. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Rowntree indicated that there has been no sense of panic within the Munster set-up, no concern that they got their pre-season wrong and have left themselves chasing the pack.

“I have absolute belief in the body of work we have gone through this summer,” said the Munster boss. “We worked exceptionally hard, trained well.

“I’ve been around a bit and have seen a lot of pre-seasons, a lot of training environments and I have absolute belief in what we’ve done and that it’s going to come out in the game.

“As I keep saying, it’s stuff that we can control and we have to be better. So we’ve addressed that this week.”

He is firm in his belief that there are quick-fixes for Munster’s failing so far this season.

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The attacking breakdown has been poor in the opening two games but Rowntree doesn’t put that down to the change in attacking framework and philosophy under new attack coach Mike Prendergast.

“It’s not the result of a new attacking framework, it’s the result of reactions from individuals,” said Rowntree. “Individual responsibility, that comes from the ball-carrier and the guys’ reaction to that, and it’s got to be better. 

“The pictures are undeniable. The breakdown is the heartbeat of the game and it’s got to be better. It has received a lot of attention this week.”

On the injury front, Munster hope to have captain Peter O’Mahony fit for the Zebre clash after he picked up an ankle issue last weekend, but the outlook isn’t great for Keith Earls following his hamstring injury against the Dragons.

“He’s not trained today,” said Rowntree. “I haven’t got any more information than that but I can confirm he’s not trained today.”

- This article was updated at 5.09pm to correct ‘way’ to ‘away’ in the headline and fifth paragraph.

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