Duncan Williams is just one of many Munster players adamant the change of head coach over the next few weeks will have little or no effect on the teams’ performances.
The 31-year-old Cork Constitution man will be back in the number nine jersey for tomorrow night’s Guinness PRO14 tie against the Dragons at Musgrave Park with a favourable result essential to redress the damaging effect of recent defeats by Leinster, Glasgow, and Connacht that have left Munster trailing the Scottish side by 12 points in their conference after seven series of games.
With that in mind, Munster could do without the distractions of managing the handover from Rassie Erasmus to Johann van Graan as well, but Williams plays down that factor.
“It has been a smooth transition, in fairness, since the day the lads (Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber) announced they were leaving. The organisation has worked to make sure that is the case. Johann was over last week, kind of shadowing the meetings and looking at a few of the training sessions.
"We met him for two or three minutes, he seemed like a very nice fellow who was eager to get started and so was looking forward to it.”
Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will remain at the helm tomorrow night, in what will certainly be their last home fixture. For all the pair contributed to the province, particualry in the wake of Anthony Foley’s death, Williams would like to afford them a proper send-off.
“Look, I think, if it is their last game, we would like to win for them. They have done a lot for us in the 18 months they have been here.
"It was a hard time for everyone but I can’t imagine it was easy for them coming in and having that situation landed on them. They have been very good for me personally as well so I would like to send them off with a win.
“With the loss last week, we would need to turn the tide here. Friday is that opportunity for a lot of fellas as well who haven’t played a lot in the last couple of weeks, so we will be going gung-ho to get that win.
“Look, I think you lose a few games and people get a bit too dramatic. Munster is more important than any person, so no matter who is there or what is going on at any time, anyone puts on that jersey, all they want to do is win for Munster.”
Simon Zebo’s availability is sure to swell the attendance and help the Munster cause even if the majority of the Munster faithful also resent his omission from the Irish squad. “We only get four or five games a season in Cork and the crowd always comes out to cheer us on,” Williams said.
“I was up at Cork Con at the weekend and while I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular about it, the consensus seems to be that everyone is happy for Simon, that he is making the move to look after his family and everyone wishes him well.”
Munster will be without several front-line players for the visit of the Dragons but Williams sees this as much a positive as a negative.
“There are a few lads who haven’t played in a couple of weeks who are mad eager to get out there and play, put up their hands and show what they can do. The Dragons seem to be playing a bit more of an expansive game.
"I know Bernard Jackman (their Irish coach) has a good attacking mindset and his philosophy is to attack from everywhere. I’m sure it will be an entertaining game.”
Munster wing Andrew Conway has received a one-week suspension by a PRO14 disciplinary panel following his red card in Friday’s inter-pro defeat to Connacht.
The ruling means he will be available for Ireland’s opening November Test against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on November 11.
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