Saturday 1 October 2016

We need to regain our top form in time for a return to Pro12 action

Conor Murray

Published 15/01/2016 | 02:30

Conor Murray admits Munster ‘didn’t play good enough rugby to get out of the pool’. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor Murray admits Munster ‘didn’t play good enough rugby to get out of the pool’. Photo: Sportsfile

It's very hard to know what to say about last weekend's game in Paris, such was the disappointment that we have felt since. I wouldn't say it was the toughest game that I have ever played, but taking that beating was the most difficult.

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If we are being honest, we didn't deserve anything from the game whatsoever. We were beaten up, we were second best in almost every aspect of the game and it was a fair result. Fair play to Stade Francais, they deserved their win, we can have no complaints.

Losing big games is always jarring, especially games like that where your whole campaign rests on the result. But we have to face it that we haven't been near good enough in the Champions Cup this season.

That is what I feel after it. We need to realise that fact, not kid ourselves that we didn't get the rub of the green or whatever - we just didn't play good enough rugby to get out of our pool.

It was a very, very quiet dressing-room afterwards. The thing that struck me was that there was a lot of injuries, knocks and blood spilled around the place, so it wasn't as if guys weren't trying.

Commitment

We gave it everything, there was no lack of commitment, which is something that would have been worrying. But that's not the case as far as I'm concerned.

We all knew we just didn't play a high enough standard of rugby, though, and now we have to figure out how to avoid slumps like that.

The reality that we were out of the Champions Cup hit home really quickly. It was a really tough place to be and it was a long journey home. We train so hard and you want to win and be able to enjoy these days, rather than suffering punishing defeats.

And we can't just shut up shop either, we have to figure out what to do now and how to fix things. That's a real challenge for us now.

We're out of Europe with two games still to play. Tomorrow's game is an opportunity to restore pride, and we need to use the last two European games as a means to find ourselves.

We need to get our house in order by the time we get back to Pro12 action, we have to find a way out of this rut.

It's going to be very tough - that's what we have been aiming to do for the last six or seven weeks and we haven't quite cracked it consistently. This game is a chance for us to start again, get back to basics and start from scratch. We need to rebuild to move forward.

With a squad of 40 or so lads, it would be very easy for us to fall out with each other, and to start pointing fingers, but we have to stick together. We are an honest bunch of guys and we spoke our minds to each other, but it was all positive work that we went through.

Rugby is a strange game though. You can't feel sorry for yourself because it's quite possible that we could turn the corner this week.

So much can happen from week to week: you can be on top of the world with a big win like we had away against Ulster, but the bottom can fall out of it the next week with defeat like last weekend. We just have to keep that in mind tomorrow and try to find our form again.

From a personal point of view I now know that I am going to have to wait at least another year to win the Champions Cup with Munster. That's a huge regret. I remember watching the province winning the competition when I was growing up and it was a huge buzz, so I can only imagine what it would be like as a player.

As it always is in Munster, that will be the big target next season.

But just when you think there are no more surprises, we hear that Andy Farrell is coming in on a consultancy basis to do some work with us.

Working with him on the Lions tour to Australia was an amazing experience and I'm sure he will make a real impact here. A new face and voice around a set-up is most welcome and I'm sure Andy's will have the desired effect.

And it is vital that we do get back on track as soon as possible. That win in Kingspan has put us in a good position in the Pro12 and if we can find a bit of form from tomorrow and next week away to Treviso it will be a good boost to our season.

Every Pro12 game is huge between now and the end of the season.

But all focus is not on the league yet. We have to go out in front of our supporters tomorrow at Thomond Park, and that in itself is a real reason to perform in a game that might seem like a fruitless task.

Monday was all about recovery for us, but we had a team session on Tuesday. We didn't dissect the game too much. You have to look back at your mistakes to go forward, but a lot of those things have been highlighted already, so we tried to iron out those problems on the pitch.

The team for the game will be named later today, but I'm sure we will see a few changes from the last few weeks. There are quite a few guys there that will feel like they could have impacted things in recent weeks, lads that are mad keen to get their chance in the Champions Cup and guys that will be eager to make up for last weekend's game too.

I remember my first European game came in such a situation. I got my first start against Brive in the Challenge Cup after we had been knocked out of the Heineken Cup earlier that season, so maybe some of the young players might benefit from the game. I certainly did when I got my chance.

Irish Independent

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