Munster boss Rassie Erasmus has opened the possibility of keeping midfield star Jaco Taute beyond his current short-term loan spell following the South African's two-try turn in a thumping European win over Leicester Tigers today, writes Simon Lewis.
Munster inflicted a biggest defeat on their fellow two-time Heineken Cup winners when they grabbed a bonus-point in a 38-0 victory at Thomond Park to make it a maximum-point haul in their Champions Cup pool campaign from two games.
Erasmus's side dominated the English giants throughout to avenge last season's home defeat at the same stage of the competition with Simon Zebo scoring a try in the first half after Tyler Bleyendaal had kick four penalties to open a 19-0 interval lead.
Two tries from Taute, on loan from the Stormers until January 1, and a penalty try after the Springbok centre was prevented from scoring a third, sent a sell-out 25,600 crowd wild in Limerick and director of rugby Erasmus believes there may be a chance the 26-year-old could stay when his short-term contract expires after Munster's New Year's Eve league trip to Connacht.
Taute was signed as cover for the injured All Black Francis Saili, who is set to return from two shoulder surgeries later this month. Yet Erasmus would like to keep both overseas stars on board.
“We don't want to get a player here that blocks the development of young Irish players but then you look at a guy like Rory Scannell sitting next to Jaco and the way he's developing and a guy like Sam Arnold experiencing that. You know, it would be great to keep him, and surely I am thinking about that,” Erasmus said.
“Francis Saili will be ready probably against Leinster (on December 26) but if there is a real case for Jaco staying here, helping and developing young backline players into Irish internationals, because there is no doubt that he is performing on and off the field helping guys around him.
“So it is something I'm thinking about to be honest with you but I always have to put the Irish system as the first, most important thing. I want to make sure it fits into the plan and if it does it would make sense.
“There are a lot of other key decision makers who must agree with your plan.”
Munster must now travel to Leicester for next Saturday's return fixture at Welford Road with Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill hoping for a rugged response from his side after he admitted: “We got our arses smacked.”
Erasmus said he had been wary of even succeeding at home given Leicester's Thomond Park win 12 months ago.
“With the quality players in the Leicester side and them beating us last year home and away we were a bit nervous about the game and we never thought about getting five points out of it.
“Our aim was always just to win the game so it's an absolute bonus to get a fourth try against a team we respect so much and with some brilliant individuals and really well coached.
“So we're really happy with the performance but I'm sure we'll wake up tomorrow morning and realise next week we have to go over that side (to Leicester). We won't get carried away.”