A great big Munster thread

Discussion in 'Guinness Pro14' started by snoopy snoopy dog dog, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog Senior Member

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    Virtually every thread in which Irish posters make their thoughts known comes back to what's going on in Munster rugby. Instead of hijacking a load of other topics, it makes sense to have a giant Munster-centric thread in which to air thoughts on all things Thomond/Musgrave Park based. So to get the ball rolling.............

    Munster failed to make the last 8 of the Heineken Cup for the first time since the 100 Years' War (or thereabouts). What's needed to get them back to the heights they once reached?

    In my opinion Munster have relied upon the same core group of players for too long. Tony McGahan has tried to change things up since he took the head coaching gig but he must now speed up the process or risk losing his job. What I think needs to be changed:

    1. New assistant coaches
    On a macro level, Tony McGahan has overseen Munster win a Magners League, qualify for three semi finals (1 ML and 2 HC) and currently sit well clear at the summit of the ML in 2 1/2 years as the head coach. He's also rebuilt the academy which has lead to a B&I Cup final appearance. Delve deeper and there are problems. The scrum is appallingly bad- what does Paul McCarthy bring to the table as supposed scrum guru? Laurie Fisher has seen the pack go from top drawer to run of the mill. Jason Holland hasn't got the backs playing with any flair. I believe all three of the coaches I've named should be replaced.

    2. Better recruitment
    Look at Munster's NIQs. Paul Warwick and Doug Howlett have been good value for money and add to the Munster HC team. Sam Tuitupou, Lifeimi Mafi and Wian Du Preez have shown nothing more than competence at ML level. That's not good enough.

    Compare Munster's NIQs with Ulster's haul of Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller, Pedrie Wannenburg, Simon Danielli and BJ Botha. All 5 are major contributors in Ulster's charge to the HC quarter final. Leinster have Stan Wright, Heinke van der Merwe, Nathan Hines and Isa Nacewa all playing at a high level in the HC. Why haven't Munster recruited a higher calibre of player in line with the other two provinces? Munster must look to overhaul their scouting department to ensure a better return from players brought in from outside the province.

    3. Promote young players
    Picking Niall Ronan, Billy Holland (at times) and James Coughlan may help get results in the ML in the short term but they'll never be top quality players. Why haven't Paddy Butler, Peter O'Mahony and Tommy O'Donnell been given more opportunities when the backrow is clearly in need of an overhaul? They have the potential to replace Alan Quinlan and David Wallace but need to be given game time. Likewise where's the sense in playing Mick O'Driscoll ahead of Ian Nagle and Dave Foley?

    4. Cut the chaff from the squad
    Munster don't have a tighthead worth his salt. Tony Buckle has supposedly attracted interest from Castres- bye, bye I say. Save the money on his and John Hayes' wages by employing a new scrum coach and proper tighthead who can hold up the scrum. Take a look at the Munster squad. There are plenty more there who don't add anything to the setup and are merely blocking younger players getting an opportunity.
     
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  3. Teh Mite

    Teh Mite TRF Legend

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    This thread will do fairly well with a couple of big posts, get horrendously over-hyped by sky TV then peter out with a wimper.
     
  4. durbutter

    durbutter Senior Member

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    Era yeah but it might actually win some trophies along the way. ;)
     
  5. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

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    Will empty out soon on everything.

    But Bullit you really seem obsessed with putting other teams down (who have won trophies) than building Saints (who have yet to produce a big trophy in past few years) up. Are you a Sarries fan undercover :)
     
  6. Teh Mite

    Teh Mite TRF Legend

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    Nope. It's called having a sense of humour.
    Really? Do I? Are you sure? You may want to double check that.

    PS: It's off topic but as you brought it up, my lot have won at least one bit of silverware every year for the past 4. And we'll see how 'small' the ECC is once Munster are playing in it! ;)
     
  7. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

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    What Big trophy have ye won. I don't consider a Challenge Cup or Domestic Cup big. Only cups where teams give a crap.
    Munster won a Celtic Cup before but we never mention it because it means nothing

    And sense of humour boardering obsession so ha
     
  8. Teh Mite

    Teh Mite TRF Legend

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    You you bite EVERY time! :lol:
     
  9. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

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  10. TRF_Peat

    TRF_Peat Super Moderator

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    Wian du Preez had a good reputation in South Africa. Looked good when he first came. Think the problem here isn't recruitment, but coaching.

    Also, its all well and good saying "Bye bye" to Buckley and Hayes... who's going to replace them? Only so many IQ Tightheads around (if the IRFU doesn't block Munster potentially starting with a 2/3rds NIQ front row I will be very surprised).

    Lastly, how many of these 'chaff' players have been involved this season? Between injuries, Ireland and suspension Munster's squad has been well stretched.

    All of that said, the problem is obviously a mix of the core group of players growing too old and problems coaching what they've got. Oh and weaknesses in central positions... like Tighthead. Anyone can see that. But I don't claim to have a cure.
     
  11. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog Senior Member

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    The problem is both. I disagree that Du Preez looked good last season - he looked less bad than Marcus Horan. He was turned inside out by Northampton in the Heineken Cup group stage last year.

    Hayes is 37 (?). Retirement will force him out. Tony Buckley is 30, supposedly in his prime. He hasn't earned a big contract. Jamie Hagan was available and should have been targeted heavily- the fact that he wasn't is down to poor recruitment. John Andress has been okay for Quins when he's had a chance and surely can't be worse than the current rabble. Simon Shawe is Leinster's 4th string tighthead yet he's done an excellent job locking the scrum whenever he's been called upon. He's NIQ but BJ Botha is reportedly in Munster (and Leinsters) sights. There are plenty of potential replacements.

    Off the top of my head Tom Gleeson, Ian Dowling, Billy Holland, Niall Ronan - why not pick JJ Hanrahan, Simon Zebo, Dave Foley and Tommy O'Donnell among others?
     
  12. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

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    Well lads Munster met already and here are main points.
    - Possibly a whole new coaching staff coming in and rumours are Foley and Jim Williams been top men (Jim coming after World Cup)
    - We have decided to try make the Amlin and win it. My understanding is we need to better Castres score or something and reason we want in is to blood younger guys and start the rebuild process. Also we realize if we win it out Connacht qualify for Heineken Cup
    - We need to fix the scrum and return to basics. This means recruiting the correct props.

    All in all alot of work and changes to be made but nothing is impossible
     
  13. TRF_Peat

    TRF_Peat Super Moderator

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    We shall have to disagree on du Preez. And again if you think Andress is really first choice Munster material, and I'm sceptical of the idea Shawe might be. Even Hagan could use some polishing, although thats a big missed oppportunity. Admittedly, better than Buckley isn't hard, but still... whatever way we dice it, I don't see the scrum turning into a Munster strength anytime soon.

    Also, Foley's been injured a lot and Hanharan is only 19 and was in school this time last year. Holland, Ronan... a lot of Munster's squad players have been important players in the ML this year. I am not a fan of chucking youth willy-nilly without a guiding hand or two.
     
  14. TRF_Olyy

    TRF_Olyy English Arrogance

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    Are there no Championship/Principality Premiership props who have a great Grandad who's Irish or something, that Munster can pinch for their own?
    Then again promoting from the AIL would have roughly the same effect without all the faffing around (though Championship props are already pro-standard, and the Welsh are notorious for having good props)
     
  15. munstermuffin

    munstermuffin Senior Member

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    I think I'm a big follower of what Peat is saying. While we need to inject youth in to the squad we still need experienced heads to help them
     
  16. Logorrhea

    Logorrhea Senior Member

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    Dominic Ryan is only a year ahead of him and hes just scored two tries in a HEC group game. He was selected ahead of Ruddock and McLaughlin. Hes still on an academy contract.

    Nagle was good enough to beat Australia yet he cant get in ahead of MOD (journeyman), O'Callaghan (playing like a talentless, powerless journeyman), or D Ryan.

    You simply have to integrate the next generation early or you end up with a 38 year old wasted prop as your first choice tight head in a critical ................. oh dear.
     
  17. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog Senior Member

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    Good post but I respectfully disagree!

    In my opinion prop is one position where there's no first choice player. You have a starter who gives his all for 50 minutes and a substitute who does so for 30 minutes. The sum of their parts add up to a solid scrum a la van der Merwe/Healy and Ross/Wright for Leinster. I agree that Andress and Shawe aren't top quality but they're capable of strong 30 minute displays. By mentioning Shawe I was merely pointing out that if a 4th choice tighthead for Leinster who was an amateur only 5 months ago can lock a scrum, surely there are decent options to be found in Ireland. Also with Ross and Hagan looking like capable players, Munster may not be restricted to an Irish qualified answer to their tighthead problem. It's only right too since they've supplied the bulk of Ireland's props for the last decade.

    In place of Foley you can swap Ian Nagle who's impressed in his limited opportunities. Holland and Ronan are on a similar level to Stephen Keogh at Leinster. Joe Schmidt took the plunge and gave Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan a chance ahead of Keogh even though neither were as polished. He picked Eoin O'Malley and Fergus McFadden when the easy choice was to pick the proven Shaun Berne (admittedly he was injured for a long spell). 5 months later those looks like inspired moves. I also believe that if you're good enough you're old enough. Another 19 year old, Craig Gilroy, has scored 5 tries in 3 games for Ulster. 18 year old Paddy Jackson has been on the bench in the Magners League while 19 year old Luke Marshall has quite a few games in the centre. Cian Healy and Luke Fitzgerald played for Leinster a couple of months after leaving school. Rhys Ruddock won a cap at 19 and there are multiple other players who made their Leinster debut before they turned 20. It is true that picking solely kids would destroy their confidence but picking Hanrahan alongside O'Leary/Stringer, O'Gara, Earls, Howlett and Warwick would benefit him greatly. Sam Tuitupou gets too much criticism because he's been decent at ML level but he doesn't represent the future. The short term pain of blooding somebody like Hanrahan would have borne fruit very quickly.
     
  18. TRF_Peat

    TRF_Peat Super Moderator

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    Ok, you make a fair point that there are definitley scrummaging options out there. Jerry Cronin at Ballynahinch (and now Ulster) hasn't done badly and is a native Munsterman. Depends slightly on what Kidney thinks though doesn't it? If he wants to give Buckley another central contract, how much choice do they have? And while I know Munster have basically gone through a spell of providing Ireland's props, I really don't think the answer for Ireland is to just pass the responsibility to another province.

    The ideal thing for Munster there (I think) would be to release du Preez, ask Dave Ryan and Darragh Hurley to cover loosehead, and then they'd probably get away with a NIQ tighthead providing Ulster doesn't retain Botha.

    As for the youth thing... at the end of the day, some players are ready that quickly. Its a bit bloody freakish though. There's questions over whether Paddy Jackson is truly ready as well and while I'd love to see him advanced quickly as we need him (the urgency is dying a bit with iHumph's form mind), I wouldn't quibble in the slightest if he wasn't played this season in the full set-up. He's the closest I see in that list to Hanrahan in terms of experience and position. I don't know how well Hanrahan's built, or how well he's adapted to AIL/A level rugby, so can't comment that closely. But if I was his coach, I would be wary about chucking him in the deep end. And in fairness, some of those 12 opportunities have gone to a young man in Dineen anyway.

    I'd agree you can - and should - embed a few kids at a time. Leinster are benefitting from that immensely and Ulster's squad next season will be a lot more dangerous for it. But, unless I'm mistaken, Mike Sherry, Scott Deasy and Peter O'Mahony have all had a fair amount of game time this season. Nagle's had a fair bit too (should get a hell of a lot more). And there's a lot of other youngsters who've got games here and there. How many kids do you put in before it becomes too much? I guess to an extent it depends on whether Munster think blooding the next generation or success now (they're topping the Magners after all) is more important. But Nagle had a good game at Ulster - and I think benefitted from having Billy Holland next to him.

    The problem here is, I think, that Munster are going at a reasonable rate of transition - but need a very quick one. The transition should have started a couple of seasons ago and debatably it did... but to the current range of your Ronans and your Hollands. Who (I'm guessing) people hoped would step up and take the step forwards... and haven't. So now Munster need to start again, the squad's that bit older and suddenly Munster need an almost over night transformation. Which won't happen. And the Niall Ronans and Denis Hurleys of this world will be important players in that as they do have a bit of quality, they've got experience and they're young enough to help guide the youngsters through as the old guard fades.

    But they should (and here I agree with you Snoopy) step aside a little this season to let the young guys play with the real quality... but only in the right amounts.
     
  19. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog Senior Member

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    There have been a bunch of post-mortems in the Irish papers over the last couple of days concerning Munster. Most have been rubbish. Only Hugh Farrelly's article in today's Indo was any use. Read it here: http://www.independent.ie/sport/rug...nster-in-dire-need-of-a-makeover-2500023.html
    The bit I find interesting is the suggestion that Laurie Fisher and Jason Holland should be let go (also Paul McCarthy should stay and work with a competent tighthead before being discarded).

    The suggested replacement for Fisher is Anthony Foley. He'd be a popular choice and has shown he has the potential to do the job through his excellent work with Munster A. The suggested replacements for Jason Holland piqued my interest though. Brian Walsh of Cork Con and Michael Bradley were forwarded. Initially I scoffed at the thought of Bradley getting the job but it might make sense.

    Tony McGahan is an inexperienced head coach. Bradley has plenty of experience with Connacht, Ireland A and Ireland and could be a valuable asset for McGahan to consult with. McGahan has recruited poorly since taking over as head coach; Nick Williams, Wian Du Preez, Peter Borlase, Felix Jones, Sam Tuitupou, Damien and Johne Murphy is hardly a bumper haul. By contrast Bradley plucked out Bernard Jackman, John Fogarty, Stephen Knoop, Andrew Farley, Paul Warwick, George Naoupu, Brett Wilkinson, Ray Ofisa, Sean Cronin, Fionn Carr, Ian Keatley and Jamie Hagan on a shoestring budget. Giving Bradley a role in identifying new players would benefit the Munster setup.

    I believe appointing Bradley to an assistant head coach role, thus allowing Tony McGahan more freedom to coach the backs, would be a wise move. Just don't offer him the head coaching gig!
     
  20. Feicarsinn

    Feicarsinn Super Αdmin

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    Eh, Bradley did bring in some good players yes. But there were also some absolutely horrendous signings made by the westerners under his charge. Connacht purchases have generally been hit and miss since the pro era began. Still, it wouldn't hurt to have a shakeup of the Munster coaching setup.
     
  21. snoopy snoopy dog dog

    snoopy snoopy dog dog Senior Member

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    I won't deny that for a second. In Bradley's defence, he's wasn't in the market for top quality but was often taking a chance on unpolished, under the radar type of players to fill the squad. In that regard he did pretty well. I'm no fan of the 3 year residency rule but Andrew Farley, Stephen Knoop and Brett Wilkinson all played for Ireland A despite being unheralded signings from abroad. That's a bloody good return. Perhaps Bradley is a good recruiter of talent but not a great head coach.
     
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