MUNSTER have been warned it may take some time to get used to life under Rassie Erasmus.
That is the view of Leicester Tigers Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill, whose side will come up against Munster in Pool 1 of this season’s Champions Cup.
Erasmus took the reins as Director of Rugby at Thomond Park in the summer and he has made a steady start to life in Ireland by guiding his new team to fifth in the PRO12 table after four games.
However Cockerill, whose Leicester side have a back-to-back double header against Munster in December, has warned it could be a while before the South African’s methods are bedded into a club steeped in its ways.
“They have got a new coaching staff and they will have a new style,” said Cockerill.
“Foreign coaches haven’t always settled there for whatever reason, but they have had an okay start to the PRO12.
“Munster are very traditional, things have to be done in a Munster way — not too dissimilar to the Leicester way.
“Transitioning different ideas and new people isn’t always easy and that may take them some time.
“Munster have been historically a very strong side. They are probably not at the strength they once were — but you could say that about Leicester from the early 2000s.
“I think they are evolving and the landscape is changing, they have lost a lot of generational players in the last two or three years.”
Munster and Leicester’s pool has been dubbed ‘The Pool of Death’ by many, given the fact it also boasts last season’s finalists Racing Metro and PRO12 contenders Glasgow Warriors.
Cockerill admits that on paper it is undoubtedly one of the toughest groups in the competition, with a testing trip over the border to Glasgow on Friday, October 14 a tight opening fixture for the Tigers.
However, after guiding his team to the semi-finals last season, Cockerill believes his squad have the talent to get out of a challenging pool.
“I think it is a tough competition. We feel we have got a good squad but I am sure the others will feel the same,” Cockerill added.
“It is important that you have a good pool stage. If you can get to the knockout stages and get a home quarter-final then it is a knockout and anything can happen.
“I think one of the other pools is a little bit tougher than ours. If you look at Racing, they are a quality side. And as for Glasgow, Gregor [Townsend] has done a great job with them.
“They are a good side. They were champions a couple of years ago in the PRO12 and we know they are going to play a very good style of rugby.
“They will be challenging for us.
“But look, that is a pool we can get out of if we are smart and we know we are good enough to do that.
“The good thing about this tournament is that it is not a procession. There are quality games which could be quarter-finals or semi-finals or finals, right from round one.
“Just look at Toulon v Saracens first up, then there is Leicester versus Racing.
“They are big games that would grace any occasion, so I think that shows the quality of the competition — which is fantastic.
“There are a lot of sides good enough to win the competition, for us it is about getting out of the pool stages and trying to get a home quarter-final.
“Then you toss a coin because you are playing lots of very good teams.”
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