Flannery convinced Munster remain on the right track
Scrum coach says Erasmus’s imminent departure has not impeded squad’s progress
Gerbrandt Grobler: the new lock is doubtful for Munster’s opening Pro 14 game against Worcester Warriors. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Munster scrum coach Jerry Flannery says the announcement during the summer that Rassie Erasmus will return to South Africa in December has not impacted on their preparations for the new season.
The former Irish hooker said the primary concern was to build on the progress of last season and he believes that the mid-season departure of Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber will not impact on that.
“Obviously, it was weird with the announcement at the start of preaseason but it in no way has it affected our rugby. We felt we put down a really good season last year and the main thing for us is to get consistency and continuity year on year on year. We were worried that was the main thing.
“Felix [Jones] put an awful lot of work into our attacking game in the off-season and you were worried then when Rassie and Jacques Nienaber were leaving, is there someone else going to come in straight away, is that work down the drain? But from a rugby point of view it has been incredibly positive. We have consolidated the good things that we did last year.
“We have looked where we can make a step-up and we have been layering that in and developing the players’ skill-sets so that we can play a little bit more of an expansive game when necessary, when it is on.
“From my own point of view, it’s really rewarding. Because when you are watching the team train against the team everyone is getting the same stimulus of training. . .When you go against opposition and you see the difference between your team and the opposition, we are not getting it 100 per cent right. We are far from that but I can see that we are creating opportunities and we are able to execute things that we weren’t doing last year,” said Flannery.
New lock Gerbrandt Grobler is doubtful for the opening Pro14 game against Benetton Rugby in Cork on Friday evening with an ankle injury picked up in the 35-26 win over Worcester Warriors on Thursday, while flanker Tommy O’Donnell is following return to play protocols after picking up a head injury in the same match.
Flannery confirmed that it would be a number of weeks before JJ Hanrahan recovers from a shoulder injury to make his return to Munster after two seasons with Northampton Saints.
Meanwhile, Connacht have completed the signing of former Irish U-20 prop Denis Coulson. The 23-year old joins after three seasons with Grenoble where he made 29 appearances.