Jerry Flannery – “Players and coaches move on all the time and you have to be prepared for that”

“Players and coaches move on all the time and you have to be prepared for that” Jerry Flannery says his side not affected by Erasmus’ departure.

Jerry Flannery enjoyed a superb 2016/17 season as Munster’s scrum coach guiding his side, along with Felix Jones, Jaques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus to a Champions cup semi-final and a Pro 12 final.

Ahead of an exciting new season of now Pro 14 rugby, the former Munster hooker is in a positive mood, even though Erasmus’ departure isn’t exactly what the province wanted or needed at such an early stage in the South Africans plan for the province.

“It’s not probably ideal but I think that we’ve, from a rugby point of view, I think we’ve put in a lot of good work over the preseason and were hoping to consolidate on all the good things we did last year and add some extra layers to that”

“In our pre season games so far we’ve seen a lot of that coming through”

Positivity seems to be the general mood around the Munster camp heading into the new season, which is great to see from a supporters point of view. However, the only way that fans will know if this departure will have an effect on the team is in their on field performances and their results. Certainly after last seasons performances they have a lot to live up to.

Erasmus obviously brought huge success with him when he arrived, which is why so many supporters are disappointed by the prospect of him leaving mid way through the season, but Flannery feels the plans Erasmus has implemented will help the squad and coaching staff even after he’s gone.

The focus on taking responsibility for your own team and not totally relying on one coach or one player to do it for you. Munster’s scrum coach feels the players can improve on last year now that they have to take more and more ownership collectively

“I haven’t seen anything to tell me that the players are in any way negatively effected. This is professional rugby and players and coaches move on all the time and you have to be prepared for that”

“Rassie has definitely created an environment here where the players take a lot of ownership and he gives the coaches the autonomy to run their departments as they see fit”

It’s all looking good for someone looking in from the outside, after their pre season win against a good Worcester side and some good new additions to the squad, some of whom will be involved Friday night, it seems as if all the talk around the coaches coming and going isn’t causing any issues on the field.

Obviously the Pro 14 runners up didn’t have to worry about their Director of Rugby position at this stage last year. After a few years in the wilderness the old Munster definitely returned to some degree last year with sell out crowds almost every week and some huge wins both at home and abroad.

Reflecting on last seasons success the former Munster hooker had this to say

“We came up short, and very very short in the final. It was very very disappointing against scarlets but I think we, you know when you’re bringing in a new coach and a new game plan you’re trying to bed things in and I think that worked really really well and I think everyone enjoyed the season last year.”

“Overall it was a very very positive season.”

“We were aware that last years game plan was effective for us but when it came to the semi finals and finals we came up short and felix, in conjunction with George Murray put in awful lot of work into developing our attack game.”

Supporters will get to see first hand against against Treviso on Friday night whether this added dimension or layers as Flannery has put it will be executed accordingly.

It’s a good match for Munster to begin with. On paper it should be a straightforward victory where they even might get the chance to play this new expanded game Flannery and his squad have been discussing. On the other hand it could be a game where Munster could find it hard to gel given its so early in the season. If the latter does occur and Munster struggle, it could add fuel to the fire concerning the team maybe being effected by Erasmus departure at Christmas.

Flannery has no doubts his side will perform and admits there will be mistakes and mishaps but it’s about how his side will deal with them that he’s most interested in

“Every team at this stage of the season makes mistakes but its how quickly you can learn and as long as you can keep winning and fixing the mistakes on the fly that’s the key at this stage.”

The scrum coach is spot on with his evaluation here. Even though some fans mightn’t like to see it, there is guaranteed to be mistakes, but it’s these mistakes early in the season that can only improve this growing Munster side, and they will have to improve now that there’s the added challenge of facing Super Rugby side.

The Southern Kings and the Cheetahs are the two new sides included in this seasons new look Pro 14 and the the move has been accepted very well by coaching staff and players alike. Munster’s first South African challenge will be against the Cheetahs next week on Saturday 9th September and Flannery sees the expansion as the perfect decision to help make the Guinness Pro 14 that bit more competitive with the stronger European Leagues in England and France

“I think its very very positive. I think for the league to be competitive in terms of competing with France and with England and with super rugby I think it has to evolve and I think bringing in the cheetahs and the kings is a really positive move and I’m very  excited about getting exposed to other teams from SA now.”

Friday’s game at Irish Independent park will throw up a lot of talking points, you would imagine, and with a lot of the spotlight on the province now Munster supporters will be hoping for a positive start to the season. If Flannery’s comments are anything to g by then we are in for positive season with even better rugby on show.

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