Wednesday 20 February 2019

'In terms of emotion, this is one of the best for me, incredible' - Munster boss Van Graan overjoyed following Toulon win

Munster's CJ Stander, left, and head coach Johann van Graan celebrate
Munster's CJ Stander, left, and head coach Johann van Graan celebrate
David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster coach Johann van Graan revealed he was convinced that Francois Trinh-Duc's late clearance was destined for the stands before being gathered by Andrew Conway who scored Munster's magical winner.

"When he kicked it, I thought it was going straight in touch, we were right in line with it. All credit to Andrew.

"The last game he played here was against Castres. All credit to our medical staff, to come back from injury like that, starting on the wing and finishing at full-back.

"In terms of emotion, this is one of the best for me, incredible. But it's not about me, I want to be part of something special. Credit to all the players and the coaches.

"One point is the biggest and the smallest margin in the world. I'd like to believe our heart was a deciding factor.

"It is incredible what belief can make human beings do. We knew we were up against it from when the draw was made.

"Guys like Sam Arnold, I can mention every player who played. Munster magic came through again.

"It was an incredible game, lots of ebbs and swings, two great teams going at each other. They started well, then we got momentum. Then they score a try.

"We play for situations like this but it is hard to execute. We scored that try at the end and killed the game. It is an honour to coach this team.

"All the odds were stacked against us. We had staff and management who believed and a club who believe we can do the unthinkable and make dreams come true.

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"We focused on our work-rate and our impacts needed to be maassive. We had that scrum turnover with our new front-row.

"The Munster way is the hard way. We conceded a try. And then that unbelievable try from Andrew Conway. And then the indiscipline at the end.

"Simon Zebo was upset because he wanted to play 80 minutes. The dressing-room is like a war zone. We fly to South Africa for two weeks and then fly back for a European semi-final."

Star-studded Toulon boss Fabien Galthie said that he wasn't surprised by Munster's extraordinary depth of spirit after his dominant side were thwarted by the gutsy men in red in a Thomond Park thriller.

"We know that, they are at home, they are like a national team. They are not like us. We have more selection, it's not like us. It is harder for us to build a team.

"Maybe they are not a star team, like Ireland. But they have that model, the provincial teams like Leinster, Munster and Scarlets are ready to play in this competition, and preparation is aimed specifically for this competition.

"We had opportunities to score. Munster, on their first visit, were able to score a try and in that period, they took the moment on the scoreboard. Ten points in two minutes was important.

"We thought we did what we needed to win the match."

Instead, they were undone by Andrew Conway's memorable last-gasp stunner from the near the half-way left touchline.

"The last action, the last turnover, it was a good opportunity to re-load our position with the ball.

"We decide to kick too early, we had a good line-speed defence if we keep the ball. We needed to do that. That is the game."

Toulon captain Mathieu Basteraud lamented Toulon's inability to turn their dominance into points in the epic quarter-final defeat.

"We had the territory and the possession but we did not score points," he said. "If you don't score tries, you cannot win. It is very frustrating for us.

"We have a lot of opportunities but there were too many errors with the ball and the details let us down.

"We have no problems with the referee. He tries to do his best.

"We know this Munster team is one with a special sprit and we saw that big heart today."

English lock forward David Attwood also bemoaned his side's missed chances.

"We had opportunities but didn't take them. The spirit here has been good for a long time. Thomond Park is well-known around the world.

"It doesn't take you much to lose a Heineken Cup and my head was buried somewhere else when Andrew Conway scored that try. We certainly thought we could have the firepower to beat them."

And the Englishman hopes that his conquerors can provide minimal solace by now going on to win the competition.

"Munster will need some guys to come back, they have spirit and the stadium was an important factor. If they go on to win it after beating us, I would wish them all the best."

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