Has Rassie Erasmus hooked a Shark with bite?

Rassie Erasmus struck gold when he captured Jaco Taute on a short-term loan from the Stormers, but is it too much to expect Jean Deysel to make a similar impact during his limited time at Munster?

Has Rassie Erasmus hooked a Shark with bite?

South African centre Taute, capped three times by the Springboks, arrived on a four-month deal between Super Rugby seasons to cover for the injured Francis Saili and Sam Arnold and proved such a hit, on and off the pitch, that Munster persuaded the IRFU he was a player worth bending their overseas player rules for in order to keep him until the end of the season.

So instead of leaving Cape Town this week for the Stormers’ round five fixture against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday, Taute will be on the welcoming committee at Munster’s High Performance Centre at the University of Limerick this week when Erasmus’s latest South African loanee arrives.

It will be asking a lot of second row Deysel to make the same impression his compatriot Taute has made in such a short space of time yet director of rugby Erasmus is hopeful he has made a good character assessment of the Sharks forward with seven Springboks caps.

Signed until the end of the season as cover for the injured Jean Kleyn and Dave Foley, the 32-year-old has all the attributes to succeed on the pitch, with a reputation for no-nonsense physicality, being uncompromising in the collision and ferocious over the ball in defence.

Yet his new boss and fellow South African believes it is how Deysel fits in to the Munster culture that will determine the quality of his time at the province.

“It is always tough to bring someone from the outside in on a short term and I guess it looks like I’m just bringing South African guys in, just because I know the person, I know the individual,” Erasmus said.

“If you make calls like that it is a thing where you can’t make a mistake and bring somebody in and maybe there is a character problem or wouldn’t fit into the culture and you just pick him on purely the way he plays. There is always the risk of that.

“The first thing we did is we looked at all the Irish options, phoned around, spoke to Connacht and all the guys, spoke to Leinster to see if they were able to lend us one of their players. There is always the dilemma if you’ve played for another province that in the European Cup, that if you were in a match 23 then you can’t play for us.

“At the end of the day, we just couldn’t find an Irish-qualified one. Then I thought of looking around at who is available and will they be willing and able to fit in and I just know Jean really well personally, so I think he can do a job, I hope.”

Erasmus, who will have Billy Holland, Darren O’Shea and perhaps John Madigan available for this Saturday’s trip to PRO12 bottom club Zebre, is also hopeful Deysel will be available for selection for next week’s Champions Cup quarter-final at home to Toulouse on April 1, subject to the South African receiving a work permit.

“We are one injury away from really needing him to step almost into the matchday 23, so I think (the work permit is) very close,” the Munster boss said.

As to whether Munster supporters can expect Deysel to make the same impact as Taute during his loan spell, Erasmus was reticent to pile pressure on the newcomer’s shoulders. “One is a flanker and one is a centre and Jaco plays at centre sometimes like a flanker and I guess that’s what makes Jaco a little bit different to other centres because his play is really physical.

“Jean has played second row and loose forward and has played a few Springbok caps and he’s been a leader in the team. I can guarantee you he will give you everything.

“He won’t come here to make a few bucks, run around a bit and have a life experience at Munster. He would like to come and contribute and try to help us win, that’s the kind of guy he is.

“I’m not sure how big his impact will be. It’s difficult to settle in one week. A backline player doesn’t have to know all the lineout calls and movements and stuff.

“Forwards must be much more clever than backline players,” Erasmus, the former flanker, said with a chuckle. I know he will give everything.”

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