O’Mahony admits uncertainty around coaching ticket is not ideal

Munster prepare for big test in Europe as they head to Exeter

Although Johann van Graan’s departure from Munster was confirmed almost four months ago, while Stephen Larkham’s return to Australia has been known since November, there is still no white smoke emanating from the IRFU or the province as regards next season’s coaching ticket.

No less than players, coaches come and go while the show still goes on, and like much outside noise it’s probably not as much of a distraction within a squad as we on the outside might think. Impending European knock-out games will also have that affect.

Even so some clarity would be helpful as even captain Peter O’Mahony admits the current uncertainty is not ideal.

“It’s obviously not ideal, but from a player’s point of view, from my point of view, I certainly have enough on my plate, and we have enough on our plate with regard to obviously reviewing the game last weekend and then getting on to a hugely exciting and an incredibly big test in Europe, going to Exeter this weekend.


“You know rugby is about being big in the moment and rugby is about being in the week that you’re in, and there’ll always be noise and there’ll always be people talking about this and that, and there’ll be some players talking about it, I’d imagine, worrying about it, but I think the good guys, good players, they focus on the week and the task that’s ahead, and they don’t get their attention taking away from what really matters.

“And I think luckily we have a huge group of that calibre of player involved with us that we won’t be taken off task.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s ideal. I’d love to have the whole ticket named for next year, but that’s not the way life or these things work, and there’s a huge process in the background to get these things sorted and I’m sure the people who are put in charge of that are doing the best they can and trying to get it done, so we just have to worry about Saturday.”


After a wounding defeat by Leinster which ended Munster’s 10-game unbeaten home run and with Gavin Coombes, David Kilcoyne, Tadhg Beirne and Andrew Conway all definitely ruled out, they face the revived European champions of just two seasons ago Exeter Chiefs in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup last-16 first leg at Sandy Park (kick-off 5.30pm).

In other words this looks like vintage Munster in Europe territory.

“Look, I hope so. It’s never easy losing guys like that. There is plenty of guys banging on the head coach’s door for however many months or years and guys get a shot now and guys have got to take the opportunity and put their hand up.

“It’s no different now, you need a squad, you need a squad effort. These things are inevitable, you never play off a full deck. Very rarely if ever, you have a full deck. You’ve got to have guys ready to play at the weekend in these big games.”

Certainly they’ve been in bigger pickles before, not least last December, when O’Mahony led an amalgam of Test and academy players as Munster dug deep into their DNA after their abandoned trip to South Africa to beat Wasps 35-14 in Coventry in their first match for seven weeks.

“Absolutely we can get there again,” said O’Mahony. “I think that week will be important for the club for a long time. Obviously it was a very one-off scenario. It doesn’t happen very often but moments like that and weeks like that don’t just happen and go away.

Young guys

“That will stay with those young guys, that will stay with the older lads, and it will stay with that coaching group for a long time. It will stay with the club and past players. It was like winning something in itself that day, and those things matter going forward. For I don’t know how many years people will be talking about that.

“So that’s something we’ll always reference and go back to. I’m sure our academy guys, going forward will be showing clips of how young guys performed on one of the utmost high pressure environments.

“When you’re called up, when you need to do a job, there’s some things that you can do which are special and that was a special week. That’s very important to us, yeah.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times