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Dublin: 0°C Saturday 10 April 2021

Earls, Murray and Bleyendaal set for Munster returns as Jaco Taute arrives

Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is staying positive after the defeat to Cardiff.

MUNSTER WILL HAVE Ireland internationals Conor Murray and Keith Earls available for Saturday’s visit to the Dragons in the Guinness Pro12, while new signing Jaco Taute is around two weeks away from his debut.

Murray and Earls missed the opening two rounds of the Pro12, including Friday night’s 24-23 defeat to Cardiff in Cork, due to the IRFU’s player management programme.

Munster’s Conor Murray Murray is set for his return this week. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

To the probable relief of many Munster fans, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus also stated that Tyler Bleyendaal – missing on Friday due to tightness in his calf – will be available again this week.

Ian Keatley wore the 10 shirt in Bleyendaal’s absence against Cardiff, slotting 100% off the tee but also contributing one or two weak kicks from the tee.

“Tyler just had a stiff calf,” said Erasmus. “The plan was always that we are going to need two fly-halves this season. We are going to manage them. We don’t want to push [Bleyendaal], he had a bit of calf stiffness there.

“And it’s going to be a long season; we are going to need him. Looking at all of the injuries that we had, if he actually played tonight, next week would look really bleak. But now there is some fresh international guys coming back.

“Tyler is available for selection. I think in the end it was the right decision not to risk him.”

Three times-capped Springbok centre/fullback Taute, meanwhile, arrived in Ireland from South Africa on Thursday and may feature in the round four clash with Edinburgh.

Dan Goggin has had two starts in Munster’s 13 shirt in the injury-enforced absence of Francis Saili, while Cian Bohane played the second half of the Cardiff fixture after inside centre Rory Scannell was forced off with a neck/head injury.

“Experience,” said Erasmus when asked what Taute will bring for Munster. “He’s a guy who can play 12, 13 and 15.

“It’s crucial to build our depth there but as I said from the beginning, we must make sure what we have here, we give them a proper chance, give them experience, let them learn from their mistakes, don’t crucify them when they make mistakes.

“That’s why we put them in there, it’s the only place they will learn.

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Jaco Taute Taute has arrived in Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“But when you bring in cover for Francis like we brought in Jaco eventually, when we got that through, you’ve got an experienced player who can cover those bases for you and stand their ground for Frankie.”

Erasmus will need his side to bring improvement on Friday’s showing if they are to win away to the Dragons next time out, with defensive errors and some poor kicking having been particularly costly against Cardiff.

While Munster focused on a kick-based game plan in Cork, there were glimpses of fine attacking play around out-half Ian Keatley involving a handful of offloads.

“Defence is guts and blood, attack is confidence,” said Erasmus. “Attack takes time and as the confidence comes the attack will get better.

“I thought there were glimpses tonight but the disappointing thing was the direct play when we were close to their line, the mauling from two, three metres out, why we didn’t score.

“That for me was disappointing. I’d like to play further out. The direct play, there’s not a whole lot of tricks there, it’s just power.”

And while this defeat to Cardiff had a familiar taste for Munster, bringing back memories of last season, Erasmus is certain that the positive vibes of the new campaign will not be halted.

“If you lose by one point I can understand what the supporters feel like,” said the South African. “Just to see them stay positive until the last minute and then we’re executing pretty stupidly there at the end, I can understand that they’re negative.

“But I can see how we’re growing through the week and through the training sessions and I’m pretty sure on Monday we’ll have solutions for this. That’s what the mindset will be.”

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