For a club that has always regarded the Heineken European Cup as the be-all-and-end-all, a diet of Guinness PRO14 fixtures to look forward to for the last four months of the season must be a tough for Munster’s players to swallow.
But tomorrow’s visit of the struggling Southern Kings to Musgrave Park still represents a significant fixture in the effort to avoid if an even more disappointing season is not to be endured.
It’s a game Munster (30 points) surely have to win with a bonus point if they are to regain top position in Conference B ahead of current leaders Edinburgh (34) and Scarlets (31), even if they will be without their Irish contingent of players.
Prop John Ryan is just one of many ruing a season that has veered off course.
“Just to be obvious, we’re a team that wants to be in the knockout stages in Europe every year and it just didn’t happen for us, we left a few points against Racing at home and you could probably say the Saracens away game as well,” he said.
“Those games and even a losing bonus point would have helped us out, but look, that’s just the way it is and we probably have the advantage of focusing only on the league.
“I know it’s not where we want to be, but it’s something we can take advantage of rather than to be licking our wounds.”
A five-pointer tomorrow against the bottom-of-the-table Kings should, on paper, be a formality.? But Ryan doesn’t see it like that.
The Six Nations Championship goes ahead without Ryan, who picked up his 21st international cap at the World Cup in Japan.
An injury sustained on his return home cost him a place in the post-Christmas “stocktake” and Andy Farrell has subsequently told him “just to keep the head down and keep going”.
“Andy’s definitely got an open mind about bringing fellows back in and rewarding them on form, and that I just wasn’t on form.
"I just couldn’t get a run of games together after coming back from my calf injury so that was disappointing, but he’s definitely let lads know, and I’ve spoken to others, that the door is ajar for them too, that if you put in the performances — you will be called in.”
Quickly returning to the task at hand at Munster, John Ryan laments the side’s failure to win a title since 2011.
“Our goal, like every other team in the league, is to win it. And we badly need to get this monkey of not winning silverware off our backs,” he said.