Monday 16 September 2019

'At the time I was really pissed off' - Conor Murray on how Munster bounced back from losing Rassie Erasmus mid-season

Former Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Conor Murray (inset).
Former Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and Conor Murray (inset). Newsdesk Newsdesk

Conor Murray has revealed that he was 'really pissed off' when he learned that Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was leaving midway through this season.

Erasmus led the Reds to a PRO 12 final and a Champions Cup semi-final in his first season in charge, also navigating the province through the tough period following the sudden death of head coach Anthony Foley.

However, despite his success with Munster, rumours persisted that Erasmus would return home to South Africa, with the former Springbok agreeing a deal last summer to take over his national team.

Erasmus stayed with Munster until November, departing along with highly regarded defence coach Jacques Nienaber. Speaking on The Left Wing,'s rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, Murray admitted that he was very annoyed when he first learned of the further upheaval at Munster.

"Rassie and Jacques came in and took hold of the place and put in their systems," he said.

"Literally everyone just rowed in behind them and loved what they were doing. I found out in the summer after a long season, ending with a Lions tour, when I wanted to forget about rugby for a few weeks. I found out and I was very pissed off. Selfishly pissed off, because we had two great coaches in Felix [Jones] and Fla [Jerry Flannery] and we had started something good.

"In my head I was thinking, this is the third or fourth time I've changed coaches with Munster since I've been here, when I am I going to get a consistent run of coaching?

"At the time I was really pissed off and everyone else was and I think we had a full right to be."

Erasmus was replaced by fellow South African Johann van Graan, who was able to bring Munster to semi-finals in both the PRO 14 and Champions Cup this season. Murray paid tribute to his head coach, who was given a difficult task of driving a team forward after arriving with the season in progress.

"Johann came in and in fairness, he was really good with the way he dealt with us," Murray said.

"He had a lot of ideas that he wanted to implement and the same with JP Ferreira in D [defence]. We also had ways of playing and systems in place from Rassie and Jacques and we believed in it and wanted to continue with them. It was really difficult for them to come in mid-season and change things, but I think they did a really good job. They didn't try to change too much, they slowly implemented a few new things that they liked and kept a lot of the things that we had been using.

"It got us to a certain place and it has been positive."

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