Saturday 14 December 2019

Varley warns Munster colleagues to be 'fearful for places' after 'unacceptable' display

Munster's Damien Varley in action during squad training
Munster's Damien Varley in action during squad training
Munster captain Damien Varley during a press conference
David Kelly

David Kelly

If you closed your eyes and listened to Munster captain Damien Varley filter through the detritus of his side's forgettable last home game of the season, one could easily have been transported to the bowels of Marseille's Velodrome.

A different day, a different venue, just the same nagging problems that, once again, threaten to expose Munster as they prepare for their second semi-final of the season.

Those hoping for a different outcome than that agonising semi-final defeat in Europe against Toulon will not have been entirely disabused of their anxiety as they head to Scotland to face the form team, Glasgow, in the RaboDirect Pro12 play-offs.

"I wouldn't say long-term it is damaging psychologically, but it is certainly extremely disappointing that we didn't show up and we were beaten up in areas around the park, more so once again, stupid, unforced errors," says Varley, almost exactly mirroring his thoughts after the Toulon defeat.

"We weren't direct enough and any time we tried to, we forced the ball out wide and behind us too much and put ourselves under pressure and we'd find ourselves 50 yards back.

"That allowed them into the game, silly mistakes like not covering the blindside and they get a try off it. Psychologically it is upsetting, frustrating. But it has happened us before going into big games where we have had a loss – we have to turn it around."

Varley (below) stresses the Heineken Cup trauma does not remain rooted in their subconscious."I wouldn't say there is a worry that it is clouding our performance," he insists.

"It is still upsetting. There is a Heineken Cup final on in two weeks' time. We would love to be part of it, but we are not. We have to get on with it.

"We had a great win last weekend in Edinburgh and it is hugely disappointing that we turn up this weekend and play utter s**t!"

"We should have been more direct; we forced it... given the conditions and a terrible night, we didn't adapt well enough. We compounded our mistakes throughout the night. We could never get on the front foot.

"When we were throwing passes, we were throwing them behind each other. We were not as accurate as we should be and as we are capable of."

A repeat display against Glasgow will comprehensively terminate Munster's campaign.

"Absolutely," Varley (left) affirms. "They embarrassed us here at Thomond Park not so long ago. We had a narrow victory over them earlier on in the year over there. It is going to be a huge game. They put 55 points up on Zebre and they will put 55 points up on us if we turn up and we play similarly as we did.

"It is going to be a long week for us. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of preparations because it is going to be an extremely tough task. We try and set our standards in European rugby, but this fixture next week is certainly as big a challenge as we have come across all year."

Some Munster players could pay a hefty tariff; Rob Penney doesn't want this to be his last team selection.

"Players should always be fearful for their places after a performance like that," warns the captain.

"We will assess that this week. Everyone of us needs to look at ourselves and hold our hands up for that type of performance, which is completely unacceptable in a Munster jersey."

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