As satisfied as Rassie Erasmus was to savour the winning start to his reign as Munster director of rugby, there was enough to concern him from Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 victory at Scarlets to keep both his and his squad’s feet firmly planted on terra firma.
The province moved into their new €9.75 million training centre at the University of Limerick yesterday with their round one 23-13 away-day win at the much-fancied Welsh region still fresh in the mind.
Yet they had plenty of time to settle into the team meeting room as Erasmus sent his game review into extra time.
There was never any danger of the players getting carried away with their win but Erasmus rammed the point home with an extensive review, interrupted only by the need to meet the media ahead of this Friday’s home opener in Cork against Cardiff Blues.
It seems the South African was just warming to the topic of the try his new charges conceded to Scarlets when scrum-half Gareth Davies caught them slumbering with a quick-tap penalty.
When asked about the aberration in an otherwise overwhelmingly positive defensive effort, Erasmus said: “We were just actually on that (in the video review) when I realised it was (time for the media briefing). I paused the video!”
Beating the Scarlets in west Wales for the first time since 2011 gave the new boss the best of both worlds, getting his Munster career off to a wonderful start and denying play-off rivals a losing bonus point while offering plenty of evidence for the need to improve.
“It was gutsy and determined and the guys were prepared to work at their game out there. Both tactically and technically, there was so many things that were not spot on. There is so much to work on. That always helps not to get carried away.
“It’s been a while since we won there but now it’s done and now it’s on to next week. It’s a short turnaround and we have so much things to rectify, and I’m pretty sure we won’t rectify all of them before Friday and there will be some mistakes as well.
“As long as we go game by game and improve from experience of the previous weekend’s game, we’ll get better and better.”
Erasmus has been around the game long enough to recognise success does not come from guts and character alone and that as good as those traits were last weekend in keeping Scarlets at bay he added: “The way we played won’t win us any championships, or any cups. But that’s something to build on.”
The number of players available to Erasmus with which to further progress increased yesterday as he looked forward to welcoming back Ireland back-row CJ Stander for Friday night’s clash in Musgrave Park.
It will be the South African-born forward’s seasonal debut having gone on tour to his homeland during the summer, although Stander’s minutes were curtailed by his controversial sending off in the opening Test for an aerial collision with Patrick Lambie.
It earned him a 23rd-minute red card in Cape Town and a one-match suspension that kept him out of the second Test before returning to start in the series decider.
With Peter O’Mahony due to be kept in reserve for at least another week before his return from an 11-month lay-off, Stander’s return is a timely reminder of the talent available from a fully fit and available squad, although Simon Zebo is unlikely to appear this weekend, Erasmus said, following his bang on the ribs in the first 20 minutes at Scarlets.
The full-back underwent a scan yesterday and Munster were expected to learn the extent of his injury last night, although a ready-made replacement in Andrew Conway has passed fit for his seasonal debut, as has David Johnston.
Definitely out is tighthead prop Stephen Archer, whose neck injury kept him out of the opener but should not sideline him beyond this weekend.
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