"People put it all on Stephen Larkham now... it's not fair" - Jerry Flannery 3 years ago

"People put it all on Stephen Larkham now... it's not fair" - Jerry Flannery

Jerry Flannery knows exactly how the Australian coach and all involved at Munster are feeling.


Stephen Larkham has been at Munster for less than six months but a faltering run of results have the province's attack coach under the spotlight. The man he ostensibly replaced, Felix Jones, won the World Cup with South Africa while several of Munster's stars that were at that tournament have not hit their peak form this season.

Last January, Munster went from the festive inter-provincial games and right into a must-win Champions Cup match away from home. It was win or bust time. Munster won and won again, against Gloucester and Exeter but former coach Jerry Flannery recalls the 'horrible feeling' of stuttering early in a European campaign.

This Sunday, at La Defense Arena in Paris, Munster are on the road in Europe and again must win their final two pool games to advance to the knock-out stages of a competition they have won twice.

On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 36:00 below], Flannery joined Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble. The trio took a close look at where Munster are at this season and what they need to do to get a positive result against pool leaders Racing 92 this weekend.



Flannery notes that returning outhalf Joey Carbery looked a bit rusty in the 38-17 league loss to Ulster 'because he was rusty'. The Ireland international was making his first start in five months after injury in August curtailed his World Cup activities and delayed his Munster comeback.

Munster will be without Tadhg Beirne and, most likely, Fineen Wycherley in their pack for the Racing game but Jean Kleyn, Dave Kilcoyne and CJ Stander are all set to start. Putting 'massive pressure' on Racing's No.10 Finn Russell is priority number one in Paris, says Flannery.


"After the Racing game [in November], Johann Van Graan came out and said, 'Give us time, give us time. This is what we want to do', but when they played Saracens in those two games, there was no offloading, Now, it was Sarries and it is very hard to win collisions against them and get the ball away.

"If you're looking at it objectively, Munster are the lowest scoring, in Europe, in terms of tries, or joint lowest. But Munster have also got Racing and saracens in their group and their defence has been outstanding. So they've been low-scoring games and the conditions make things tougher. Trying to judge their attack right now is difficult but, saying that, look at Ulster. They're tearing it up in attack and so are Leinster."

As for Larkham taking stick for Munster's attack, Flannery had this to say:

"Some people put it all on Stephen Larkham now. People are asking if it is because he's doing things differently, or is it a case of him changing it up. That's an excuse. Stephen Larkham would not coach lads to pass the ball inaccurately. He would not coach lads to not run onto the ball, or inject onto the ball.

"Whatever he's tweaking, only the Munster lads will know what he's changing, but you can't allow that as a crutch for poor performances, and say, 'Oh, my passing was off because we have new coaches'. That's hiding. That creates an excuse for players and I don't think that's fair."

Flannery, having been at Munster as a player and coach for well over a decade, believes they are capable of going to Paris on Sunday and getting a win. It will not be easy - far from it - but Munster rarely do it any other way.



SUBSCRIBE TO BAZ & ANDREW'S HOUSE OF RUGBY: https://playpodca.st/house-of-rugby-ie

Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery as they look back on all the Guinness PRO14 action, preview some big Champions Cup games and look ahead to the Six Nations.