Keith Earls: ‘People just need to stop comparing us to the old Munster’

Winger calls for patience as new coaching ticket looks to get across their philosophy

 

Keith Earls believes it’s time fans stopped comparing them to the Munster team of the glory era over a decade ago and allow the current crop to develop.

The 32-year-old won a Heineken Cup medal in 2008 and for the past decade has to live with comparisons with that side and the one which captured the crown two years earlier.

And with Munster set for a Heineken Champions Cup exit this weekend unless a string of results goes their way, Earls pleaded for patience from supporters.

“Yeah, they compare us to a very successful era. The game has evolved since then and rugby is completely different to what it was back then. It moves every year, the attack quality, the defence quality shifts every year.

“We have a young enough group and some new lads coming in. A new coaching staff and hopefully starting this weekend we can kick on again.

“It is amazing, that is the standard people expect of a Munster team. Over the Christmas we probably did embarrass ourselves up in Ulster by our performance. Leinster are Leinster, they are a quality side. Losing at home is very disappointing, but the weekend, [we were] in it for 71 minutes. We handled the game a bit better, if one or two decisions went our way then it would be a different story. But with Munster we are just not used to losing three-in-a-row. People just need to stop comparing us to the old Munster as well.

“Everyone needs patience because it takes some teams a full season to bed into new coaching and a new philosophy. That is not an excuse but that is the reality of it, that people are very impatient,” said Earls.

He has now chalked up 170 appearances for his native province on top of 82 games for Ireland and believes that success just can’t be expected when a new coaching team comes in.

He said the addition of Graham Rowntree and Stephen Larkham to the coaching roster was a big boost but they need time to develop.

“People actually don’t realise that with the World Cup and everything, and Steve and Graham coming in, Johann and his coaching staff had five games where they could pick the team, their full-strength team where they had the choice of all of the players.

“Five games under a new philosophy, Steve’s philosophy, Johann’s philosophy in what he is trying to develop. Five games is still a short time to start beating the likes of Saracens and Racing and hopefully we can put in a good performance and keep building on our performance, because that is what it is all about.

“It is not even about playing for fans. It is about us getting better as rugby players and playing for each other and trying to push ourselves forward. The fans are exceptional anyway, they will always come out for us no matter what. We have been in worst-case scenarios but all we can do is go for a win on the weekend and it is out of our hands then.”

Earls said he could understand the frustration of Munster fans being increased when they see the success being enjoyed by their arch rivals Leinster.

“It probably is and why is that? I suppose, a bigger pool to look at as well with the players. They have a lot more players playing up there. It is no excuse but we definitely should be up there with them.

“We have the talent to do that but unfortunately it is not coming through at the moment. Hopefully it does,” added Earls.

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