Erasmus: Munster can learn from Sarries 'story-book'
Reds boss takes solace from Euro final, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor
Rassie Erasmus watched Saracens claim their second successive European title with a sense of déjà vu.
Munster's loss to the English champions in the Champions Cup semi-final has been a learning experience for everyone involved, and the South African director of rugby has been keen to put the lessons to good use.
What struck him about Saracens' final win over Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, though, was the simplicity of Mark McCall's side's game and how they are able to score against opposition who know what's coming but are powerless to prevent it.
"There's nothing new that they did, not one new thing," said Erasmus.
"It's weird: the first try they score is always from a left-hand maul, hit it up in the midfield, (Alex) Goode putting a grubber through and (Chris) Ashton diving over.
"It's almost like a storybook, and that just shows you how good a team they are.
"Because it's not a new thing that's coming your way, for anybody that analyses them.
"They just have this ability which teams must catch up to where they just squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until eventually you are lifeless."
The encouraging thing for the former Springbok is that he believes Munster can progress in a similar fashion if they remain patient and continue to improve on their impressive first season in his charge.
"The thing about coaching is you learn the most out of matches like that," he said. "Out of the last couple of years, they were the matches where I've learned the most, matches like that.
"Not about the wild things, and the obvious things everybody sees but the things you see and analyse and then still you couldn't do something about.
"Some people say that's due to personnel. That's not due to personnel. That's due to a combination of coaches and players, and that gives me a hell of an amount of hope.
"It took Saracens eight or nine years, but if they can build into something like that…
"I've coached a lot of those players, Schalk Brits, Schalk Burger, Michael Rhodes, Vincent Koch, Neil de Kock, and for Sarries to coach them the things they're doing, it gives you hope.
"It tells you those guys did amazing things with that group of players. It's not great to say things like that about other coaches but they are a really great coaching team."
For Munster, winning their Guinness PRO12 semi-final against Ospreys is the next step.
Tyler Bleyendaal is fit to play having damaged his bicep in the win over Connacht, while Alex Wootton has recovered from his hamstring problem.
Conor Murray is fit to start and is set to return to the starting XV.
"Duncan (Williams) has done a tremendous job for us," Erasmus said.
"Out of all these games, Duncan has played the most and we've managed to top the table with Duncan playing and at other stages - when Tyler was injury - with Ian Keatley next to him and then Rory (Scannell) at 10, Duncan has managed all those.
"But if you make the Lions squad and you're rated as one of the best nines in the world, you would be stupid not to give the guy his... because he's 100pc fit but he's just not 100pc match sharp.
"Hopefully he is Superman and he comes good on Saturday, so we will pick him."
Murray is up against a direct Lions rival in Rhys Webb this weekend but Erasmus doesn't envisage his scrum-half being distracted by the added fuss.
"If I thought he was the kind of guy to do that, I would (warn him against it), but he's really not that kind of guy," he said.
Meanwhile, Sean Cronin is Leinster's most worrying injury casualty ahead of Friday's RDS date with the Scarlets.
He must train tomorrow to confirm his recovery from neck trouble.
Sean O'Brien (hamstring) and Robbie Henshaw (ribs) both trained yesterday and will be available provided there are no further setbacks.
The absence of any updates on both Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney all but confirms that they will miss the remainder of the provincial season.
Scarlets will be without Wales second-row Jake Ball, while star flanker James Davies is a major doubt.
Both players have shoulder problems.