Wallabies legend Stephen Larkham wants to bring a more cutting edge to the Munster attack as he embarks on his new role as the province’s Senior Coach.
Australia’s 1999 World Cup-winning fly-half brings a Southern Hemisphere attacking sensibility to Munster for the 2019-20 campaign having replaced homegrown backs coach Felix Jones on Johann van Graan’s new coaching ticket, which will also see Graham Rowntree join as forwards coach following his stint with Georgia at the upcoming World Cup.
The former Brumbies and Australia assistant coach, 45, has been in Limerick for a week since arriving from Canberra and today outlined his vision for turning Munster into a more potent attacking force having watched how they came up short in both European and PRO14 semi-finals last season.
"If you look at the attack from last year, it's a pretty good record, honestly. I think we averaged seven tries per game in Cork and maybe 26 points a game was our average over the two competitions, so it's a pretty good record,” Larkham said.
"But there's a little bit of detail and we probably didn't create enough linebreaks or beat enough players one-on-one, so we're looking at a bit of that detail at the moment. We want to maintain what we've had over the last couple of years and what we've been working towards.
"Last year was probably a step up in terms of attack, so maintaining that and then putting a bit of detail around other areas of the attack.”
Larkham said he believed the personnel at his disposal was up to the task with Irish World Cup hopefuls Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell all on the roster as well as fellow Ireland caps Mike Haley and Rory Scannell.
"It's an Irish backline, to start with. Those guys are away at the moment obviously... Conor, Joey, Chris, Andy, Keith and Mike, then add the other guys who are here in the set-up and it's a pretty impressive backline. Go through the forwards, I don't know all their names at the moment, still getting my head around that. I'm pretty good with the backline as I've spent time with them but not so good on the forwards.
"At the top level, when we get those players back, we've got a really competitive team that can beat any other team in the competition. In the meantime, some of the results last year with guys who were probably new to the set-up, fantastic results, so there's good depth here as well. At the moment, we're training with 45 guys and we haven't got the internationals back yet."
As a former full-back who transitioned to fly-half to great effect, much is expected of Larkham’s potential to get the best out of Carbery as a playmaker and of the currently injured number 10 he added: "He's a very, very skilful player. He's got all the skills - kicks off both feet. I think he's quite a dynamic, athletic running five-eighth as well, so he challenges the line quite well. I really haven't seen enough of him in Munster colours so I'm still catching up on the games from last year.
"There's some other talented five-eighths here as well, so JJ (Hanrahan) and Tyler (Bleyendaal) and Ben Healy. A couple of injured guys too. We have talent in that area but Joey has a great all-round game. I'm really enjoying working with the guys we've got here at the moment and really looking forward to working with him."