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'Munster have less of a chance of winning something today than they had last week'

Bernard Jackman has fears that Alby Mathewson’s departure will affect Munster’s trophy chances.

KIWI SCRUM-HALF Alby Mathewson is now an ex-Munster player but his departure could have repercussions for the southern province’s chances of winning silverware this season.

That’s the fear former Grenoble and Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman expressed on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly

alby-mathewson-arrives Alby Mathewson is now an ex-Munster player. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Jackman expressed his reservations about Munster not being allowed to extend Mathewson’s contract, with the 33-year-old having made a big impact over the course of his 15 months with the province since joining when Conor Murray was out injured.

Munster boss Johann van Graan has three Irish scrum-halves to back-up Murray now in the shape of 24-year-old Nick McCarthy, 20-year-old Craig Casey, and 26-year-old Neil Cronin.

McCarthy has been named to start in Munster’s number nine shirt for tomorrow’s Pro14 clash against Edinburgh in Cork, with Cronin on the bench, while van Graan has promised that the highly-promising Casey will get a start for Munster sooner rather than later.

However, Jackman is of the belief that the IRFU’s unwillingness to sign off on Munster re-contracting Mathewson reduces their chances of winning a trophy this season.

“This is a really difficult one to manage because if you want Munster to win a Champions Cup or Pro14 even, having Alby there is a big help,” said Jackman on The42 Rugby Weekly.

“He wanted to stay and they have a lot of Irish-qualified players in that squad as it is. The two foreign players they’re talking about signing [Damian de Allende and RG Snyman] are coming next year.

“I think that could have been one the IRFU maybe signed off on, saying that Conor’s away a lot with Ireland. I’d imagine that Johann would have been comfortable in agreeing that Nick and Craig got a certain number of minutes but having Mathewson in the background there.

“If Conor gets injured and Munster get knocked out in the [Champions Cup] group stages because the nine doesn’t have that variety or experience in his game, that’s another season gone.

“I know it’s all about ‘Team Ireland’ but it’s not making decisions just based on what the rules are and I certainly wouldn’t have had any issue if he had been allowed to stay, to be honest.

“I want to see Nick McCarthy and Craig Casey come through but I think you can do both. From what I hear about Alby, he’s not one of these guys who throws his toys out of the pram if he doesn’t play every week. He could easily adapt to a role over the next seven or eight months where it’s part player, part mentor, and a security blanket if Conor is out or Conor is not playing well. 

“It’s a difficult one and I think Munster have less of a chance of winning something today than they had last week.”

alby-mathewson-comes-on-for-his-final-appearance Mathewson impressed in his final appearance off the bench against Racing 92 last weekend at Thomond Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Van Graan has stated that Munster were keen to keep Mathewson, who was also desperate to remain in Limerick, but he hasn’t criticised the IRFU for their unwillingness to sanction another deal.

Jackman, however, said he would be highly aggrieved if he was the head coach or director of rugby affected by the loss of an important player.

“Absolutely fuming, it’s just a handicap,” said Jackman. “There’s so many handbrakes and blockages to winning a trophy in the Champions Cup and Pro14, and you do a great job of finding this guy… because he’s been on the market, he’s been around, his career dipped. I could have got him in Grenoble at one stage and he was floating around.

“He’s come here, he’s found his form again and he’s a valuable member of that squad, and for the sake of, I believe, seven months in a World Cup year, I just think there maybe could have been some flexibility there.

“And, again, with Johann understanding that there’s a responsibility that Nick and Craig get X amount of game time, I think as a director of rugby, you’d sign up to that but you’d know that if you need someone of Alby’s quality for a quarter-final in Europe or whatever, that he’s there.

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“That’s the perfect situation, where there is fluidity and trust and understanding. I know from David Nucifora’s point of view, and whoever else is involved in that, it’s much easier having him gone because now they know Munster have to play the lads.

“But it doesn’t help Munster in this situation – and tomorrow it will be Leinster and the day after it will be Connacht and Ulster – to achieve their goal, which is to win silverware.”

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

The latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly also includes Bernard, Gavan Casey, and Murray Kinsella sharing their incredulity at a six-week ban for La Rochelle’s Pierre Bourgarit for eye gouging.

The lads also discussed Ulsterman Will Addison’s four-week ban, Leinster’s gritty win over Lyon last weekend, and positive signs on the contract front for Connacht.

Listen to the latest episode below or on your favourite podcast app.

Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to discuss eye-gouging, Munster’s scrum-half situation, and the rest of the provincial news.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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