The Offload: Heaslip’s da is not happy with Johann van Graan

Career changes aplenty; TMO Brian MacNeice showing who’s boss in Zebo card saga

There was no sign on Saturday of the two lads just taking the money and blabbing aimlessly about general rugby stuff. Former Munster Peter Pan – aka Peter Stringer – alongside Leinster and Irish captain Jamie Heaslip took pretty sharp aim at coach Johann van Graan for his pre-match attitude ahead 14-man Munster squeezed past Ulster in Thomond Park.

Van Graan has announced he’s going to leave at the end of the season and that now seems to be catching up with him.

“He was a barrel of laughs wasn’t he,” said Heaslip. “My da’s a Munster fan. He had to put up for years me playing for Leinster but the Munster fans deserve a little bit more than an answer that that, if I’m honest.

“I don’t think they are getting enough from it, they deserve more. I’d be a bit disappointed with that response.”


Van Graan was replying to a question from Murray Kinsella about his decision to leave Munster at the end of the season.

“I’ve spoken to that before. I’m not going to answer that tonight. It’s all about Ulster,” said Van Graan. He was then asked about two disappointing performances in recent games.

“Well, we just lost last week and the previous week we won before that, Murray, if you care to remember.” As a former Munster Academy player Murray probably did remember but the tone was the issue.

“We very seldom have got that kind of emotional response from Johann when Munster play well or Munster play poorly,” said Stringer. It could be a long six months in the making.

Career Changes

Greg meet Conor. Conor meet Greg. Greg is the Irish rugby player, who won Love Island in 2019 and announced his retirement from rugby at the age of 26. He competed in the rugby Sevens last summer at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where the disappointed team did not get past the group stage.

The versatile back, who came through Munster's academy before competing with Ireland, went on to win the ITV reality show alongside Amber Gill. He detailed on his YouTube channel that he has taken the retirement decision in part because "in the Sevens side of the game we are just not paid enough for it to be a viable long-term career".

He added he now wants to pursue presenting and social media opportunities.

This week a splash in the Westmeath Examiner told us that Mullingar's Conor Gilsenan survived the "first iteration of Baron Sugar of Amstrad's dreaded 'you're fired' catchphrase" as a contestant in The Apprentice.

Gilsenan is the former Leinster and London Irish player, who in 2020 was forced to retire from the sport due to medical reasons following six seasons with the Exiles. Playing most of his rugby at openside flanker, the 27-year-old captained the team on a number of occasions during his time with the club.

The former Clongowes and UCD student said he is ‘hyper-motivated by money’ as he battles to win The Apprentice prize of £250,000. Gilsenan, 28, is a sales executive and ‘part-time publican’ living in London. The Apprentice meets Love Island. Who says life ends with rugby.

TMO to the Rescue

The Simon Zebo red card against Ulster? Zebo is not a dirty player whatsoever but did he deserve it? Yes. Still the Scottish referee Mike Adamson had to be convinced by an Irish TMO that there were no mitigating circumstances that could have reduced the Zebo shoulder tackle to Ulster fullback Michael Lowry's head down to a yellow card.

In the exchanges between referee and TMO it is clear that Adamson was satisfied that a yellow card would be sufficient for the tackle. But before he finally called it, his mind was changed and he became satisfied that it was actually a red card offence.

“He’s come from a distance. I’d say it’s a high degree [danger] but there is another tackler involved. There is a dynamic situation . . . and he’s coming down so I am going to mitigate that to a yellow card,” said Adamson.

“Let’s look at the last angle again Mike, okay,” interjected the TMO Brian MacNeice, who then pointed out: “Mike you have direct contact from 11, a shoulder to the head.”

“A high degree of danger and no mitigation,” replied the referee. “Yes I agree,” says MacNeice. Maybe it would not have been a red card in France, where Zebo spent some time. But that was that. All squared off and everyone in agreement. Red Card. Job done.


“Be honest, show your colours and put it out there, give us something to show that you feel you are part of this place and what the supporters are craving. You talk about the 80 per cent [wins last season] stat . . . he’s thrown it around a lot. For me, rugby is more than just a stat. It plays on supporters’ emotions, players’ emotions and as a fan, for me, over the years. That stat stands for many other clubs around the world but for here, [There are] two reasons why it doesn’t: because of the history that has gone on here, previous successes.” – Peter Stringer reacts to Munster coach Johann Van Graan’s pre-match interview on RTÉ.

Number: 148

The number of games Simon Zebo has played with Munster without being sent off. The red card in the first half against Ulster was his first.