Recent hiccups on the field notwithstanding, new Munster CEO Ian Flanagan believes the province’s future is bright. Though he thinks they could do more to tell the world their unique story. For his part, the man raised at the Dolphin end of Musgrave Park will draw on his experience at Leicester City and Barcelona to ensure Munster will always be more than a club.
As the decibels of La Défense Arena’s eardrum-crushing sound system kicked up another notch to drown out the ‘Fields of Athenry’ on Sunday afternoon, there could not have been a more apt signifier of how the money men are dominating the conversation in European club rugby.
Munster’s inability to select from a full stock of fit fly-halves could continue for another week after JJ Hanrahan was sent for a scan on a hamstring injury, leaving a finally fit-again Joey Carbery as the next man up to face Ulster in Belfast this Friday.
Following this tense, fractious dust-up and defeat at Allianz Park on Saturday, Munster’s fight for Heineken Champions Cup survival now moves on from London to the French capital and a critical Pool 4 meeting with Racing 92 on January 12.
It was not just Peter O’Mahony’s defensive lineout prowess that helped Munster secure victory on Saturday night. Replacement back-rower Jack O’Donoghue ultimately made the most significant intervention as Heineken Champions Cup titleholders Saracens threatened to sneak a draw in added time at Thomond Park.
Johann van Graan understands the task in front of his Munster team when Saracens come calling to Thomond Park this Saturday but he is relishing the challenge of a Heineken Champions Cup pool clash against a Test-quality side.
You would expect a rugby icon like Stephen Larkham to lead by example. It is why Munster went after the Australian World Cup winner in the first place and also explains how he was walking gingerly around the High Performance Centre in Limerick last Tuesday.
Ten members of the Irish squad who returned much chastened after their participation in the ill-fated World Cup campaign are set to resume their careers get back to business for their provinces in this evening’s (5.15pm) Guinness PRO14 clash at Thomond Park.