Keith Earls: If Racing didn't have Donnacha Ryan we probably would have won
Munster winger Keith Earls has said that his club probably would have beaten Racing in their Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday if former teammate Donnacha Ryan had not played for the Parisians.
Ryan started in the second-row for Racing alongside Leone Nakarawa and made 18 tackles for the hosts as they held on for a 27-22 win at the Stade Chablan Delmas.
Earls said that Ryan was almost sickened that Munster lost the match and that his former teammate is still very much a Munster man at heart.
"That was my sixth European semi-final and it doesn't get any easier," Earls told The Hard Yards.
"I'm obviously great friends with Donnacha and I've massive respect for him. You could nearly see that he was sickened for us as no matter who he plays for he's still a true Munster man.
"I think if Racing didn't have Donnacha Ryan yesterday we probably would have won."
Munster completed just 13 of their 17 line-outs and Ryan played a big part in disrupting the visitors ball.
Earls highlighted one particular tackle from Ryan just before half-time that illustrated his effectiveness on a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the province.
49:00 for the Keith Earls interview
"Yeah definitely," Earls replied when asked if Ryan had disrupted their set-piece.
"I think between Donnacha, Billy [Holland] and Pete [O'Mahony] they would have been the players that would have had a massive hand on the Munster line-out over the last few years.
"They know each other inside out and Donnacha and Billy would have had some mind games during the week.
"He was massive for them and even before half-time we had a line-out and CJ went through the middle of the line-out and low and behold it's Donnacha that tackles him just before the line.
"I think if he wasn't there the French teams don't do as much research and analysis as [other] teams and Donnacha Ryan is a freak when it comes to that stuff."