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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Alan Quinlan urges Munster players to use criticism to prove a point

Cian Tracey

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

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Paul Wallace and Alan Quinlan were in Dublin to promote Sky Sports' rugby broadcasting package. Sky will show more than 360 live matches including a great autumn of Irish rugby with Pro12, European Rugby Champions Cup and Ireland's Autumn Internationals. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Paul Wallace and Alan Quinlan were in Dublin to promote Sky Sports' rugby broadcasting package. Sky will show more than 360 live matches including a great autumn of Irish rugby with Pro12, European Rugby Champions Cup and Ireland's Autumn Internationals. Photo: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

As he puts it himself, Alan Quinlan is no stranger to being on the end of criticism from coaches.

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In his 212 appearances for Munster, Quinlan came in for his fair share of flak but he insists that he always went out of his way to use it to his own advantage.

After Munster's email controversy, he is hoping that the players criticised in the report will do the same as they attempt to draw a line under the issue.

"When I was playing myself, if there was a report released, I probably would have filled the whole three pages of the report for the squad with all the good and bad things that were part of my package," he says with a grin.

"It's not ideal. Some players might be upset about it but if it was me, I've gotten plenty of criticism over the years face-to-face with coaches. I've had coaches who I've heard say stuff behind my back to other people and you're never happy.

"The individual guys have to focus on themselves and in some ways it might spur them on."

Frustrating

Ian Keatley spoke earlier this week about the most frustrating part of the leak being the fact that the entire squad were able to read the criticism of individual players and Quinlan can empathise with that notion.

"I think he (Keatley) made a very good point. It's going to be tough for some guys if that was the situation. It's an embarrassment in some ways.

"Maybe they can sit down with the guys who the nice stuff wasn't said about them and give them a chance to change that around.

"Even if it meant bringing someone in from the outside to try and patch up some of the damage that's been done. I think they should look at all avenues to try and get the team back to focusing on rugby and winning matches," Quinlan adds.

The timing of the leaked document has hardly come at a good time but in the run up to Anthony Foley's first competitive game in charge of the province, it already poses questions about the morale within the squad.

"It's unwanted pressure for the coaching team but it's done now and they have to try and find a way to repair it. The timing of it is very poor for sure.

"It's a real test of character for some of these guys and they've got to fight for their lives to get on the team and for their futures. That's no bad place to be if they use it to their advantage."

Quinlan has been retired from the game long enough to allow him to see both sides of the coin.

From the coaches' point of view, he is adamant that what was actually contained within the document is not uncommon for any professional rugby team but he acknowledges that it should have been done in private.

"The reality of it is that it’s a mistake that shouldn't have happened – there's no doubt about that – but it was human error.

"It's a very standard practice. Coaches sit around the table and access people but they've got to try and say stuff about players that are realistic because it is a cut-throat business. It's just unfortunate this got out.

"If you go into a coaching group and get ripped to shreds because you didn't do x, y and z, you leave unhappy and disappointed but with a point to prove. But nobody really knows about it outside," he quips.

The opening weeks of the new season – beginning tomorrow night in Thomond Park against Edinburgh – will tell if the faux pas has had an adverse effect on the squad.

"They've got to use this to try and galvanise themselves. The players need to work with the guys who the stuff was said about and work with them and make sure that the damage that's been done is healed and repaired.

"If there was criticism there, they need to get a chance to prove them wrong because coaches are not always right either."

Only time will tell whether or not the players subject to the heavy criticism can prove their coaches wrong.

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