Rassie ready to correct 'stupid' team-talk during Scarlets' comeback win in Thomond Park

The former Springbok back row wasn’t sidestepping anything in the lead up to Saturday’s Pro12 final.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

FOR RASSIE ERASMUS, this is a week for candour.

The Pro12 final in sight, it was no time to be coy or cute hoorish. Some precise tactical tweaks were about the only thing not up for discussion in UL. Team selection? Nothing to hide, the South African has his cards on the table, confident he has the hand to see off the Scarlets’ flush.

“I think we will probably go with the same centre pairing to be honest,” said Erasmus, signalling Rory Scannell will again be joined by the outgoing Francis Saili in midfield while Jaco Taute covers three positions from the bench.

There is a sentiment around some on this side of the Irish Sea that Munster will be sufficiently warned by Leinster’s inability to break down the Welsh province in last Friday’s semi-final in the RDS. However, Wayne Pivac’s side have been landing blows worth noting all season, not least a comeback  21 – 30 win in Thomond Park in February — different personnel, of course, with the Six Nations in full swing, but Erasmus won’t forget the sting of letting a 21 – 6 half-time lead evaporate in Limerick.

“When we were 21 – 6 up, I must take half of the blame because we didn’t talk too much sense at half-time,” says Erasmus, later adding:

I wouldn’t say arrogance, but when you’re 21 – 6 up, sometimes you say the stupidest things where you have seen what you did right and did wrong in the first half… everybody makes mistakes and we said some wrong things at half-time at 21 – 6.

“That wind that we played with in the first half was much stronger than the 21-6 we were up. We had actually to change our tactics which we didn’t, which was obviously half our fault.”

“They got three tries in eight or 10 minutes. It happened to Leinster this weekend, they got two tries a matter of five, six minutes, you know? In that game we really got back into it, got into scoring positions. It wasn’t as if we got all stuck, and ‘what are we going to do next?’

“They just really defended well and turned us over at the breakdown really well. As I said a few times it is only the Cardiff and the Leinster away game that’s been embarrassing in a sense that we didn’t try to find a way (back into the game). In that specific game we did find ways, we just couldn’t finish it.”

Erasmus and his squad have spoken a lot about learning from their Champions Cup semi-final loss to Saracens last month. The South African points to  last weekend’s win over the Ospreys as some evidence of their lessons learned, but is also very wary that the Scarlets have faced the European champions twice in this campaign. And Mark McCall’s team tend to leave a lasting impression.

“Scarlets are a complete team. I think, because they’ve played Saracens twice. A lot of teams learn a lot after you play Saracens. I think their gameplan changed a little bit after they played Saracens twice. Hopefully we can also use that.

Rassie Erasmus Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I think we play very similarly. Scarlets, I think, have the second most runs in the competition and a lot of kicking. They changed it from the first few games they play. Tactically a well-coached team and you can see they’re on a run of unbelievable results.

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“After they beat us here, they went and got a good smack off Leinster (45 – 9). Then now they go and beat Leinster with 14 men. They’ve changed their tactics through the season.

“We’ll stick to our guns. We only know one way to play which has worked for us.”

All in.

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Sean Farrell

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