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01st Apr 2017

Rassie Erasmus has the best possible reason to cheer on Saracens tomorrow

And it's nothing to do with the Glasgow grudge

Patrick McCarry

If we were him, or anyone from Munster, we would be cheering for Saracens tomorrow.

Munster director of rugby dismissed the notion of catching up with his whole squad on Sunday to watch Saracens take on Glasgow in their Champions Cup quarter final.

No, Erasmus will instead put his feet up and watch as both sides battle it out to reach the last four and become Munster’s semi final opponents.

The South African will turn his thoughts to a semi-final in either Dublin or Edinburgh after guiding Munster to a 41-16 victory over a flailing, fading Toulouse side at Thomond Park. He said:

“It’s actually funny, we haven’t really spoken at all about that or the permutations.

“We just know that if Saracens win we will play in Ireland. It’s always better to play in Ireland [at the Aviva Stadium].

“That’s not to say that we don’t like Saracens but we will be playing in Ireland so we will be hoping for that [Sarries win]. But if it’s not, then we will have to get onto the bus and go and play in Scotland.”

In truth, there is little love lost between Munster and either Saracens or Glasgow as the sides have torn into each other a rabid regularity in recent years.

Erasmus hailed his side’s “gutsy” triumph as ‘not perfect’ and gently chided his players for over-eagerness in the closing stages. It was threatening to become an issue until Munster rallied to stick on 17 points in the last 10 minutes.

Considering that Munster won out by 25 points with the likes of Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Jean Kleyn all watching on really shows how far this team has come on in recent months. Erasmus said:

“I’d be lying if I was to say to you I’m not nervous when they’re not on the field. I am nervous when you’ve got guys who’ve got international experience and who are world-class players but then, in the same breath, I must say we played many games when they were doing Six Nations duty, without them.

“We had to go away and play Ospreys, Scarlets and Edinburgh away from home and the group that played the last 15, 20 minutes has been grinding out away wins without those guys. I think the guys are growing into, I wouldn’t say leaders but they are growing into handling pressure situations, which is great.

“We even were able to substitute a guy like Earsly today when he was having niggles. I’m not saying we’re mentally where we should be but we are definitely growing mentally as a team.”

Erasmus believes that a combination of good luck, a clear(ish) injury slate and fierce hard work has got Munster into Europe’s final four but he is not done yet. Nor is his squad.

“We’ve managed to get to the semi final,” he commented.

“We’d be stupid not to try win that semi final and see if we can go one better.”

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