Two new arrivals that can get Munster back in the big-time
"What can you do?"
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony has brought his team to the brink of four finals in the past 12 months but they have fallen short each time.
Another season where Munster reached two semi-finals but could not find that extra few per cent required to get to a final, and claim some silverware when they get there.
This season, and in recent seasons past, Munster have been the best of the chasing pack. In Europe and in the Guinness PRO14 they have proven too much for foes fine and feeble, but are falling short when it comes to the crunch. Saracens ground them down in the Champions Cup and Leinster pulled away down the final straight, in the PRO14 semis.
They last reached a final in May 2015 but Paul O'Connell's final outing for the province ended up in a resounding defeat to Glasgow Warriors. Since then the promised land - contesting a final - has remained just that. A promise unfulfilled.
On Saturday, at The RDS, Munster captain Peter O'Mahony's post-match interview with Maz O'Reilly was lacking in fight. Granted, his side had just lost another semi to fierce rivals Leinster but O'Mahony appeared resigned.
"Yellow card... 10 points, then you're in trouble then. Our discipline wasn't where it needed.
"We put them under pressure with our rugby. It was probably one of our best performances of the year, rugby-wise. Certainly in the first half.
"But, look, our discipline wasn't good enough. Every time they got into our 22, we conceded penalties and then [with the] yellow card, you're under pressure."
Asked about two costly turnovers in the second half - one courtesy of a scrum penalty and the other when they could not shift Scott Fardy out of a ruck - O'Mahony acknowledged that 'big moments win big games' and that Leinster's defence was "exceptional". Almost as an afterthought, before Reilly could ask the next question, O'Mahony mused, "What can you do?"
It was the mid-sentence exhale as he lamented indiscipline and that off-hand remark that told you so much. What can Munster do?
— eir Sport (@eirSport) May 18, 2019
That was the area that former Munster centre Barry Murphy discussed with Andrew Trimble on the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 6:00 below].
Murphy focused on how smart additions to the coaching and playing staffs could get Munster over the line next season.
"Johann van Graan put CJ Stander in at 7, which didn't really work for me," says Murphy. "I think they were beaten on the ground so that was a tough decision... this is Captain Hindsight all over... I thought Joey Carbery had a good game but he's played only 10 minutes of rugby (for Munster) since January."
Selection calls for big games certainly do have a bearing on being winners or watching finals from afar, but there are wider issues that need addressing at Munster. Coaches Jerry Flannery and Felix Jones are leaving their roles at months' end and Head of Commericial and Marketing, Doug Howlett is returning to New Zealand.
The province have only secured scrum-half Nick McCarthy as an outside signing for next season, thus far, with van Graan having to promote from the academy and scout the club scene. Murphy says:
"There's a lot changing. Coaching-wise, there are a few names being thrown around. Stephen Larkham, a former Australia coach, is one of them. That would be very interesting and he is supposed to be very technical; a freak! 10 or 12 options off every lineout or scrum.
"I haven't heard more about [Wales and Lions backs coach] Rob Howley since last week but there was supposed to have been an interview. they'll have to add three or four [coaches]."
All Blacks coach Wayne Smith has also been mentioned, while many Munster fans would welcome former players Paul O'Connell and/or Ronan O'Gara back to the fold.
In terms of playing, Murphy does not feel Munster are too far off winning trophies but would love to see the province get in a finisher along the lines of Leinster's Kiwi import James Lowe.
Van Graan may yet complete some business over the summer, with either short-term contracts handed out while Ireland players are at the World Cup, or there may be a big signing from abroad after that tournament wraps. Chiefs' Sean Wainui - 23 and as yet uncapped by the All Blacks - would fall into the 'finisher' mould while Larkham could help with bringing in someone of Dane Haylett Petty' s calibre.
"They are just lacking that killer instinct," he states.