RONAN O'GARA: The Toulouse turnaround, and why Munster aren’t there yet

Head coach Johann van Graan with Joey Carbery during Munster Rugby Squad Training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The family visited a beautiful little old French settlement village of Akaroa, about 50 miles from Christchurch last weekend. Down by the sea, temperatures were warm and the water on the first weekend of January was like your mother’s bath, writes Ronan O’Gara

I’m not sure an Irish person ever gets the right side of their head to compute this sort of meteorological upside-down-ness. I was walking into Rugby Park yesterday, the Crusaders’ training base, and met a sign informing the public ‘Open from January 14’. Your instinct is to scoff and trash these lazy so-and-so’s after Christmas, until you register this is their equivalent of our August, when banks and civil service and builders are on their summer vacation. Eventually, we might align our heads with their routines.

In pre-season, management throws everything into the pot for consideration. Changing things up. Including routine, as it happens. These days, there’s an alternative view to everything in sports prep. Recently, we had an expert from the University of Canterbury telling us that everything we knew about player-empowerment needed second-guessing. In fact, the elite player now likes to be given specific instruction and likes to work within a defined gameplan because the alternative is too random and too individual. Who knew?

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