Sunday 8 December 2019

I'm excited to work with a top coach like Farrell

Anthony Foley with Andy Farrell (left) on Tuesday when the Englishman attended his first Munster training session. Photo: Sportsfile
Anthony Foley with Andy Farrell (left) on Tuesday when the Englishman attended his first Munster training session. Photo: Sportsfile

Anthony Foley

Last weekend was a really tough game to be involved with. We had hoped to perform a lot better. Going to France playing the Top14 champions is always going to be difficult.

Stade are a very good side on the front foot, and on the back of a big win against Toulouse, they were full of confidence. Unfortunately after being well in the game at half-time we couldn't make the most of our advantage after the break.

Crucially we missed a couple of chances to get points on the board and we needed to start the second half stronger. Maybe the critical point was the try that was disallowed for a forward pass, which would have brought us back to 13-5 or 13-7. That would have given us a chance, and who knows what would have happened then?

Losing BJ Botha, Tommy O'Donnell and Andrew Conway so early in the game was a significant blow too. Using so many replacements at that stage meant we didn't have the usual impact to make in the last quarter, but despite all of that, we were still a good way off where we wanted to be.

To be fair Stade played very well. They were very physical: I thought they won a lot of the collisions on both sides of the ball, which disappointed us.

On days like that you need your plan to be executed perfectly, but we struggled at times to give ourselves a platform to work off.


A lot of the ball we got was from unstructured situations and we tried to do the best we could with it.

The effort was there, the game took a huge physical toll on the players, but the disappointment in defeat is massive.

Looking back at the game together on Tuesday was a constructive review as always. No player takes to the pitch to not do his best and to be fair to them the game turned on a few small things.

Looking back through a game you always spot decisions from players and calls from the referee that might have made a big difference to the momentum. But for us it is all about being constructive.

The expectation at Munster is always massive, and ultimately we fell short in this competition. Against such quality teams you need to perform as close to perfect as you can, but it didn't happen for us. We have to move on from it and get better.

With qualification now impossible, what's important is that we look ahead to the Pro12. We are in a reasonable position with a game in hand and winning that can push us into the top three, which would be a good situation going forward.

If you look at the European results of the Pro12 teams across the board, other than Ulster in Oyonnax, there are a lot of the teams eliminated at this stage. Leinster were out already and have already kicked on in the league; last year's champions Glasgow haven't gone so well, while Ospreys have struggled as well. All that means is that we are in for an extremely competitive run-in to the season.

It's also important that we look at the injuries and our squad depth. We need to give people a justified opportunity this weekend based on the work they have been doing.

It's not possible to make changes in all areas and we want to be competitive for a home game, but if we get that balance right it will freshen the set-up a bit.

This week we have seen the arrival of Andy Farrell on a consultancy basis. From my point of view, I think he's a fantastic addition.

Everyone has embraced the decision. To get a guy with such experience is a huge boost, he is a fantastic resource for us to have available for the next few months.

Given that we have been on a tough run of results, having a new face is no harm. To have a guy who is just out of a World Cup, who has coached on a Lions tour and will soon link up with Ireland is a great addition.

Being in a 16-week run of games is a tough task - especially when you lose a few games in a row - and the weeks have rolled into each other. So to have a fresh pair of eyes, who hasn't been in the bubble with us, is a great thing to have at our disposal.

I'm delighted with Andy's arrival. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for us to learn from him. And on top of it he is a real genuine person who I'm sure we'll work well with. It can only make us better.

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