"Munster have global appeal and no name would be off the table for them"
"He's very emotional and can't be held liable for what he says!"
Just a little over three weeks ago, Munster sent a squad that would include 12 debutants over to face Wasps in the Champions Cup and earned a bonus point win.
After the multiple hits of a Covid-hit trip to South Africa, RG Snyman's latest long-term injury, Stephen Larkham announcing his departure and more than 30 players and staff forced to isolate [in Ireland and South Africa], the victory was a big shot in the arm to the province.
Flash forward three weeks and Munster followed up a strangely sluggish home win over Castres with their worst performance of the season in an away loss to Connacht. During that window, too, Munster head coach Johann Van Graan confirmed he was off to Bath at the end of the season.
On the latest House of Rugby URC episode [LISTEN from 24:00 below], hosts Greg O'Shea and Jason Hennessy were joined by Darren Cave to discuss the current goings on, and goings wrong, at Munster.
"It was one of the worst games of rugby I've ever seen in my life," said Hennessy of Connacht's 10-8 win over Munster. "It was almost like watching a different sport. It was certainly the worst game I've seen all season, and I was at Munster vs. Castres!"
As highlighted by former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman, after the game, Munster had 28 kicks, 45 passes and 59 carries in the entire game. Munster outhalf Ben Healy made only one carry and five passes as he put boot to leather and kicked away a lot of possession. In fairness to Healy, only hoick resulted in a try off a Mack Hansen error, but that was as good as it got.
"If you ask any Munster fan [about Van Graan], they'd say the same. He's a lovely guy and he's done a lot of good for the province in the last few years, but it's good that he's leaving at the end of the season, because they're going nowhere at the moment. They don't seem to have a game-plan.
"They played some lovely rugby against Wasps. I don't know whether that was because of [stand-in coach] Ian Costello or whether it was the young guys playing. Then, against Castres, it was absolute rubbish. Against Connacht, rubbish. I don't know what's going on. You can't blame the players because that game-plan that was set out against Connacht, like... what are you doing? That's not rugby."
Darren Cave on Munster's lack of mojo
When he was on the show, earlier this season, Cave spoke of how he had been underwhelmed by Stephen Larkham's time overseeing the Munster attack. Nothing he has seen since then has altered that view.
"As much as I like teasing about Munster," the former Ulster and Ireland centre said, "I do think they have so much potential.
"On paper, if you put down Munster's full-strength team, they are right up there. I don't think they are better than Leinster, but they are capable of beating them. On paper, Munster are better than Ulster... If you go through their best team, it's unbelievable. Such a team. Conway, Zebo, Earls, and don't get me started on the young guys coming through."
For Hennessy, though, Munster could be heading for another rebuilding period, especially if Damian De Allende and RG Snyman follow Van Graan through the 'Exit' door, in the summer.
Greg O'Shea, who was part of the Munster senior squad for a couple of seasons before he switched to Sevens, believes there could be a disconnect between the head coach and his players.
In terms of a replacement for van Graan, Hennessy mentioned that Crusaders coach Scott Robinson and former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had been mentioned as leading candidates, while there is talk of former boss Declan Kidney returning to take up a director of rugby role.
Kidney could oversee operations with the likes of Costello and Mike Prendergast taking on coaching roles. Former fullback Felix Jones is the Springboks' point-man in Europe but could be tempted with a backs coach, or attack, brief.
"Munster do have global appeal," says Cave, "and no name would be off the table for them...
"They'll have the money and they've got options. If I was a Munster fan, I'd be optimistic about next season... they have lots of good players and have the foundations there."
Ronan O'Gara has already stated he is committed to La Rochelle, having recently penned a three-year contract, and Paul O'Connell is in with the Ireland senior squad, but there are plenty of decent options out there.
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY URC HERE: