Van Graan hoping Grobler controversy will die down

South African – who was previously banned for doping – made his debut on Saturday

Munster’s Gerbrandt Grobler during their Pro14 win over Zebre. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Munster’s Gerbrandt Grobler during their Pro14 win over Zebre. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Munster coach Johann van Graan said he wants to draw a line under the Gerbrandt Grobler after the South African made his competitive debut on Saturday night.

The 26-year old was given a rapturous ovation when he was introduced just before the hour against Zebre in Thomond Park.

The Racing 92 lock was previously banned from rugby for two years for the use of a performance enhancing steroid in South Africa.

He arrived in Limerick last summer but an injury picked up in a pre-season clash in Worcester curtailed his involvement until this weekend, where he replaced fellow South African Jean Kleyn in the 59th minute at Thomond Park.

And after Munster and the IRFU released a statement on Friday saying they were backing the player, van Graan says he just wants to move on with his season as it heads towards the business end.

“The whole team was very chuffed for Gerbrandt and John Poland to get their first caps and this was a 23-man effort and I’m very glad he came on the field and I thought both debutants did very well,” said van Graan.

“To be honest I don’t want to comment on that (Grobler issue) anymore I’ve said what I wanted to say a few weeks back and it was great to see the crowd give him a good welcome when he got on the field and as he got off the field.”

Munster secured their 12th win in a row over Zebre even though they only led by 12-5 after Guglielmo Palazzani scored for the visitors in the 53rd minute.

Munster still scored five tries and secured the bonus point, as they did when they won 36-19 at Zebre in November – the last game before van Graan took charge.

“When we started, when I came in in November, we said it’s now about superstars, it’s not about the starting XV, the 23, it’s about the squad,” said van Graan.

“This was by no means a perfect performance but we have to improve next weekend and we have the five points which are pretty important, and the fact that we came through this without any big injuries.”

Tries from Sam Arnold and Brian Scott gave Munster a 12-0 half-time lead. Before further efforts followed from Robin Copeland, Rory Scannell and Arnold again.

“Every try and every victory we need to celebrate. We worked hard for two weeks let’s enjoy it and refocus and get back to zero on Monday,” said van Graan.

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