Wednesday 21 February 2018

Rassie Erasmus: Donnacha Ryan is 10 times the Munster man I will ever be

Donnacha Ryan Photo: Sportsfile
Donnacha Ryan Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rassie Erasmus has paid tribute to Donnacha Ryan after the talismanic second-row played his final game at Thomond Park before he moves to France.

Ryan put in another huge shift as Munster booked their place in next weekend's Guinness PRO12 final and the 33-year old will now hope to end his 13-year career at his home province with a winner's medal in his back pocket.

The crowd in Limerick stayed on 15 minutes after the full time whistle to cheer one of the province's finest servants off the pitch before he joins Racing 92 next season.

"It's nice but it's also emotional. It's tough calls and decision to make,” Erasmus said.

“Donnacha has been here for year, he's 10 times more a Munster man than I will ever be.”

Francis Saili also played his final game at Thomond Park and his man-of the-match performance was one of the finest in the two-years he spent at the province.

The All Black centre's first half try set Munster on their way to a 23-3 win over the Ospreys and it was his initial break that sparked Simon Zebo's sensational score that will live long in the memory.

Erasmus confirmed that Saili wanted to remain at Munster but at the end of the day, a “tough decision” had to be made.

"Frankie has done wonderful in the two years he has been here and he wanted to stay,” Erasmus insisted.

“It's a tough decision that we have to make, but just look at the last tackle he made. It shows what he feels for the club.

"Luckily, he is mature about it, he wants to finish on a high with the club. He's excited about next week. But it's sad, it's sad to lose guys like that. We wanted to keep him.

"You can say it's between them (Saili and Jaco Taute) but there's a few things more that plays a role. The fact that Jaco can play 15 for us as well, cover there, and obviously the financial impact - it wasn't really between the two of them.

"Some people you can afford, other people you can't afford. It's one of those things, and you can only have so many foreigners. Otherwise, Irish rugby would be dead when it comes to the national team.

"So it's tough decision but we have to make a few decisions around affordability, quality and all of those kind things, but it was really tough."

Peter O'Mahony added that it was a fitting way for Ryan and Saili to bow out at Thomond Park but he was keen to stress that they have one more huge task next Saturday against the Scarlets.

"It's nice to be able to send them off from Thomond Park but they have another one to go for us," the skipper said.

"Donners has been an incredible servant to the club and the country, and it's nice to be able to have our fans give him a good round of applause because he deserves nothing more. Donners isn't a good man for the limelight or making a deal of anything at all.

"Obviously Frankie has been through a lot here and come into unbelievable form. He was unbelievable last year for us when we struggled and he had a couple of knocks and he has come into some fabulous form the last couple of months.

"He's a game breaker and a game changer, and he did that today, he was very classy. It's nice to be able to send him off on a nice one, but we obviously have a big one to go."

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