Monday 18 December 2017

'Our Pro12 form before I took over wasn't great' - Foley defends his Munster record

Anthony Foley Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Foley Photo: Sportsfile
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

On the day that he agreed a contract extension with Munster, head coach Anthony Foley was keen to point out the positives of his tenure to date.

The Munster legend inherited a side from Rob Penney that struggled domestically but had also reached back-to-back European Cup semi-finals. Foley was able to improve the side's Pro12 form, making the final last season but has led Munster to consecutive Champions Cup pool stage exits and at the moment his team sit fifth in the league table.

When asked by Joe Molloy on Off The Ball tonight whether he feels the team is better now than when he took over, he gave a mixed response.

"We are better at different stages," Foley said.

"When you look at our Pro12 form before I took over it wasn't great but our European Cup form with an experienced side was better."

The tough part about being the Munster coach between now and the end of the world is that you will always be judged against the double Heineken Cup-winning side that pulverised packs around Europe. But Foley was a part of that team and reminded the listeners that the reason they needed Miracles Matches to beat Gloucester and Sale was because they had shipped heavy defeats earlier in those campaigns.

"Someone said to me once that there was a reason we won miracle matches before, because things weren't perfect back then either," Foley said

"We had to pull rabbits out of hats back then and we haven't been able to do that now."

Foley's position had been the subject of speculation after the province announced that they were looking to hire a Director of Rugby to work over the former back row. Despite that, Foley says that re-signing with the province was an easy process.

"Ultimately it was straightforward enough," Foley said.

"I wouldn't be going into it if i didn't feel I could contribute and we could hopefully get back to the days of filling Millennium Stadiums and winning trophies."

Another interesting aspect of Munster's season was Andy Farrell being brought in as a consultant. Foley didn't give too much away when discussing how Ireland's incoming defence coach is helping out the squad, but did offer some context as to what his remit is.

"Andy has been a breath of fresh air in terms of having a different perspective and another voice in the room," Foley said.

"He talks to the players and the coaches. He is another avenue of people to get points across to. It has been great and there has been a very positive feel around Andy and Munster."

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