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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 5 December 2020

'It's nice to have 10 points but the reality check will come if you think you're pretty good'

Rassie Erasmus isn’t getting carried away with Munster’s fast start to the season.

Munster's backline fired again on Saturday as they scored eight tries.
Munster's backline fired again on Saturday as they scored eight tries.
Image: Inpho

Ryan Bailey reports from Thomond Park

BACK-TO-BACK bonus point victories amounts to the perfect start to the new season for Munster, but Rassie Erasmus says it’s dangerous to look too far ahead, warning that a reality check is around the corner if they think ‘they’re now pretty good.’

The southern province followed up last week’s opening game victory over Treviso with an emphatic demolition job of the Cheetahs this evening as winger Alex Wootton crossed four times in an eight-try rout.

Munster sit pretty with 10 points from a possible 10 after the first two outings, but far stiffer tests lie ahead and Erasmus knows his side will need to make big improvements for consecutive away trips, starting with next week’s visit to the Ospreys.

“It is but we saw last year Scarlets lost their first three games and smashed us in the final,” the Munster director of rugby said when asked if he agreed it was a perfect start to the campaign.

“The most important thing I learned last season is it’s 47 weeks and it’s very far from May next year. Managing players coming back, keeping players fresh, always mixing it up and building squad depth is one of the things we’re trying to do while not losing games. It’s nice to have 10 points but the reality check will always come if you think you’re pretty good now, which we’re far from.”

Wootton, who became just the second Munster player to score four tries in a Pro14 game after Mike Mullins in 2001, was the outstanding performer and duly won the man-of-the-match award but there were impressive displays all around the park; academy prop Liam O’Connor helped the Munster pack dominate the set-piece while Jack O’Donoghue was immense all evening.

Alex Wootton receives the Guinness PRO14 Man of the Match award from Brendan Ryan Wootton was MOTM. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

While admitting there are things his side need to work on and rectify as the season progresses, Erasmus expressed his delight at the strength in depth the province is building up with several internationals yet to return following their summer exertions.

“I guess the scoreboard definitely says that [it was a good performance] but there was a few lapses after half-time in defence,” the South African continued.

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“The scrum got worse in the second half when we had our experienced guys on so there’s lots of things to think about and then there’s some young guys putting up their hands in certain positions. Guys like Alex Wootton, Liam O’Connor in the front row.

“There’s nice healthy competition and I guess that will make us think about how we’ll manage the guys and that’s nice because we’re building some depth in there. The scoreboard says it’s good but we’ve a lot of work to do.

“I think there was a little bit of progression in the attack, which was nice to see all the hard work Felix [Jones] is putting in on the attack is paying off. We’re building up slowly, which is positive. There’s lots to work on.

“When you play at home it’s always an extra motivation. The crowd get behind you, you enjoy it. The hunger to keep on performing was there. We’re happy to get the 10 points but we’re not fooled to think that all of a sudden we’re going so well. Next tough will be a really tough game and then it just gets tougher and tougher.”

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Four-try Wootton takes centre stage as Munster ruthlessly tear Cheetahs apart

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Ryan Bailey

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