Friday 24 January 2020

Chris Farrell pinpoints two key areas where Munster have improved under senior coach Stephen Larkham

Staying positive: Chris Farrell says Munster are playing with more clarity despite their disappointing run of form
Staying positive: Chris Farrell says Munster are playing with more clarity despite their disappointing run of form

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Towards the end of last season, after Munster's European exit, centre Chris Farrell went public with his dissatisfaction with the team's attack.

At the time, only Glasgow and Leinster had scored more tries than the Reds in the Guinness Pro14, but they had struggled to break Saracens down and were looking less and less potent by the week.

Please log in or register with for free access to this article.

Log In

Felix Jones left at the end of the season and was replaced by the internationally renowned Stephen Larkham. The former Australia international drew praise for the way Munster played early in the season.

In recent weeks, however, the tries have begun to dry up and the line breaks have been harder to come by.

Since their 21-21 draw at home to Racing 92 in November, Munster have not topped the 20-point mark during a tough run of fixtures that has seen them win twice and lose four times.

In Europe, their total of seven tries in four matches sees them rank alongside a clutch of teams out of the running. Only Lyon, with five, have touched down less frequently.

Yet, Farrell believes that the team's attack is in better shape than it was a year ago and reckons the team-shape and the clarity around their plan will see them crossing the white-wash regularly in no time.

"I think we have improved massively this season," he said. "I know you could say last weekend (against Ulster) wasn't great, the weekend before (against Leinster) was even less, but I think as a group, collectively, we are improving, we are getting closer to scoring and scoring good tries; being less reliant on kicking and all those things."

Asked what has improved since Larkham arrived, the Ireland centre says the team are all on the same page and their out-halves are driving the side well.

"Clarity and our No 10s... when I came back from World Cup duty, JJ (Hanrahan) and the lads have stepped in and taken real control," he explained.

"What's improved is the variation. The forwards have taken more control of how we play in attack, their skill set has improved massively from last year. That's one of the main things, since we came back at the start of the season, that I have seen from last season.

"When we get a little bit of consistency throughout the season, hopefully, with our team because we have used a massive number of players in the squad and things have changed and even over the last three weeks our team has changed so drastically.

"If we can get a team out there that is a bit more consistent over the next while and, obviously, that is going to be difficult going into the Six Nations because some are going to be away.

"But whenever we get to the business end of the season, I think we can get a little bit of consistency and get our best combinations out there week on week. I don't think we have had that this season yet."

Sunday's trip to face Racing 92 in Paris will determine whether Munster are still in the hunt during that business end of the campaign and, given the game will be played indoors at the La Défense Arena, it will be a major test of their attack, while their defence will be put through their paces by the Parisians' classy backs.

"We have been there before and played there, it is an amazing place to play and you have got to relish that," Farrell said. "The conditions are perfect for individuals who have talent, power and speed.

"We are going to have to nullify a lot of their threats because they are so dangerous. We saw that at Thomond Park when Teddy Thomas and Finn Russell were causing us trouble."

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Schools rugby special - 'The St Michael’s dream team are the side to beat'

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport