Erasmus expected to opt for Bleyendaal as Munster outhalf

JJ Hanrahan may not make match-day squad for the visit to Castres on Sunday

Simon Zebo: “Simon looks good to go,” said Erasmus. “I think he will be available this weekend.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Simon Zebo: “Simon looks good to go,” said Erasmus. “I think he will be available this weekend.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

After Munster’s media briefing at the University of Limerick, Rassie Erasmus was told that he once played against Reggie Corrigan.

“Really, when?”

“1998 . . .”

Not the battle of Pretoria (presumably he’s come across Peter Clohessy this past year).

“ . . at Lansdowne Road.”

That was the November afternoon when Bobby Skinstad, with Erasmus in his slipstream, tore Ireland to shreds. Corrigan came off the bench during the cleanest of Springbok victories (27-13).  

The outgoing Munster director of rugby was keen to move past the exchange between Corrigan, the TG4 inquisitor, and Peter O’Mahony immediately following last Saturday’s defeat to Leinster.

“You’ve just lost a game and somebody asks you a question like that. Pete just said how he feels.”

On three occasions in a short interview Corrigan questioned the endeavour of O’Mahony’s team-mates. The issue of a former Leinster captain irking the current Munster leader went over Erasmus’s head.

“I don’t know the guy who asks the questions,” said Erasmus. “I don’t understand why he would ask that. Nobody would say ‘Yes, we lacked intensity’.”

Supposedly the Munster GPS trackers reported season high numbers.  

“Ach, let’s put that one behind us if we can.”

CJ Stander had no issue dealing with what O’Mahony described as “questioning the core of everything we do at Munster.”

“We work close together for the whole year, every day we’re in each other’s faces so if we can’t stand up for each other who’s going to stand up for us?” asked Stander. 

“Pete did exactly that. There’s different ways to interpret the interview and different ways to go at it, but he stood up and what we thought was right in the moment, he did it. We all back him.

“We pride ourselves on our work rate . . . Ah, that’s part of Munster. When you arrive here it’s the first thing you hear: We work for the jersey here, and we work hard for it’.

Working hard

“It’s not great when someone takes on your intensity and your work ethic and your work-rate. Look, it’s his opinion and it’s how he saw the game.

“Look, everyone has an opinion, he’s going to give it. There’s a lot of people talking, saying we didn’t give everything and there’s a few games people say: ‘Well, you played so hard against Glasgow last year and then another game you drop off’. Sometimes it’s just the game, sometimes you don’t have the ball, sometimes you just don’t get into your flow with the game plan.

“But the boys are working hard I promise you that. They’ll work for that badge until the jersey’s ripped off them.”

Erasmus is expected to name Tyler Bleyendaal at outhalf, Jean Kleyn at lock and Simon Zebo at fullback to face Castres at the Stade Pierre-Antoine on Sunday.

“Simon looks good to go,” said Erasmus. “I think he will be available this weekend . . . He came through two of the training sessions and did pretty okay.

“Jean Kleyn is positive. I think there is a 70 percent chance if he gets through the whole week, there is doubt still but I think he will be good to go. I think we will probably push it a little bit. It’s an important game, the first one, without obviously harming the guy.”

Erasmus stated over the weekend that whoever wears 10 in Castres would be his primary outhalf this season. Indications are JJ Hanrahan will not make the match day squad with Ian Keatley providing bench cover. That means Hanrahan would be demoted to the A team’s trip to Swansea on Saturday.

“We’ll try and make the right decision there but it’s nice to see JJ going the way he is going. I see a player with tremendous X factor. Somebody who doesn’t need to play a pattern. He was magnificent when he came on against Cardiff.

“I haven’t worked with him under pressure as a 10. When he moved to fly-half on Saturday we were chasing the game so he couldn’t dictate with his boot, as the general, but he definitely has that ability. He is a player who can play 10 that we sometimes move to 15, rather than a guy who sits on the bench and covers them, that would be bad for his career. But if he settles into one of the positions covering the other one as well it is a wonderful option for us to have.

“Hopefully he don’t make him into a Jack of all trades.”

And master of none.

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