Jean Kleyn paid tribute to Munster’s togetherness after the province emerged from a week of controversy off the field to book a place in the Champions Cup quarter-finals.
As the debate raged on in the media about whether Munster were right to sign Kleyn’s fellow South African lock Gerbrandt Grobler last summer in the knowledge that he had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, subsequently serving a two-year suspension, the men in red kept their heads down and prepared for their sixth and final game in Pool 4.
That they triumphed 48-3 against Castres, a side sitting fourth in the French Top14, was a testament to Munster’s resilience and Kleyn said: “Look, at the end of the day we are a team.
“As Munster, we play for each other and we back each other. Even though some guys might have made mistakes in the past, I think Donncha O’Callaghan stated it very well when he said ‘hate the sin, don’t hate the sinner’. And I think that is mostly what we do, we support each other no matter what we go through. Mistakes were made, turned over a new leaf and we support him fully.”
Grobler featured prominently for Munster A in Friday night’s B&I Cup victory over Ospreys Select at Musgrave Park and Kleyn said the entire squad had blocked out the “white noise” that had been created around the 25-year-old forward.
“It’s the same as any other game, there will always be a lot of media and white noise in the background. What is important to us as a team is that we don’t focus on that white noise, we focus on our internal structures and play for each other. That’s what we did, we blocked out the white noise and played for each other.”
Head coach Johann van Graan paid tribute to his team’s adaptability in coping with the three-hour rain delay which forced kick-off back from 1pm to 4pm as a result of a waterlogged pitch.
“Very happy about the win and most important about how we as a squad handled the day,” van Graan said. “If you don’t adapt on days like these, things can go wrong.
“We as a squad believe you can never communicate enough. So together with Niall and the coaches and the senior players, we decided to go back to the hotel, treat it as a new game. Some of the guys ate again, some of the guys went for a nap. I encouraged the guys to get away from the game for an hour, made a new time, got back together and refocused our plan. It was quite an easy ride back to the stadium but well done to the management and the players for the way we adapted to the conditions of the day.”
- Irish Examiner