'The one thing we really take out of it is that we've got the game plan and the skill'

Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham feels the Pro14 final was “fairly evenly matched.”

Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham.
Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

MUNSTER SENIOR COACH Stephen Larkham says the Pro14 final defeat to Leinster last weekend was “fairly evenly matched.”

The southern province were level at 6-6 at half time after Leinster had missed a series of try-scoring chances but Leo Cullen and Staurt Lancaster’s scored through Jack Conan to help them pull clear in the second 40 minutes.

Munster failed to threaten Leinster to any great extent in attack but Larkham today stated his belief that there wasn’t any clear gap between the teams.

“It was one of those games that just crept away from us,” said Larkham. “We’ve spoken a fair bit about belief this morning. That’s a key message. Are they better than us? They were better than us on the day.

“There’s some stats that if you look at it, they made more mistakes than us when they had their hands on the ball. They kicked more than us throughout the game.

“It was fairly evenly-matched throughout the whole game and the one thing we really take out of it is that we’ve got the game plan and the skill there. We’ve just got to beat them on the day by better execution in certain parts of the game.”

It was Munster’s 13th defeat in the last 15 games against Leinster and Larkham admitted that it was mentally very tough for some of the province’s players to take.

They must rally themselves quickly this week, with a Champions Cup round-of-16 tie against Toulouse to come on Saturday.

“Some of the guys are still struggling, some of them are just about over it,” said Larkham. “It’s tough, we’ve had a couple of games against Leinster that haven’t gone our way and we’ve been the team that has pushed Leinster more than anyone else in the big games with full squads out there.

“We’re still picking up our mental state at the moment. It’s expected and by the end of the week, we’ll have built nicely.”

“We’re not trying to prove anything to anyone outside of ourselves. We want to play the game we want to play. There were facets of that game that came out well at the weekend but it wasn’t a complete performance. We’ve looked at our fundamentals and want to make sure we’re back to those at the weekend.

“Any final that you lose or game you lose at the end of the season is tough. I guess the beauty of the current situation is that we’ve got another massive game this weekend. It’s another final this weekend effectively, we have to win to keep going in Europe.”

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Larkham said Munster are still unsure whether captain Peter O’Mahony will be fit to play against Toulouse after suffering a “deep laceration” to his leg during last weekend’s final.

“Really unknown at this stage, we’ll make a decision later in the week,” said Larkham.

“He’s very important to our plans, club captain, team captain, and a world-class player. We want to give him as long as possible. We don’t know today, we’ll make a decision later in the week.”

Meanwhile, Munster confirmed the signing of South African forward Jason Jenkins ahead of next season and Larkham highlighted what the 25-year-old will bring to the province.

“First and foremost, experience. Springboks, Springboks A, Japan, playing for the Bulls in South Africa. He’s a South African forward, he knows the tough stuff, he gives us coverage in all positions in the back five. He can’t play in the front row but he can certainly play in every position in the back five.

“He’s going to give experience to all those players, whether they’re young or old. He’s going to give us good experience there.” 

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