Johann van Graan has responded to recent criticism of Munster’s performances, saying that the squad have taken little notice of outside noise.
Munster came under plenty of criticism last week for their disappointing loss to Connacht, while their previous performance against Castres wasn’t much better, even though they did beat the French club.
Van Graan is of course departing at the end of the season in order to join Bath, which has led to some pundits calling on Munster to relieve the South African coach of his duties immediately, based on Munster’s underwhelming displays.
Munster did beat Ulster despite having Simon Zebo sent off after 15 minutes however, and van Graan told RTE that he thinks some people may have got “carried away” in their criticism of the province.
Johann Van Graan on recent criticism of Munster.
“It is professional sport. There will always be noise but luckily we have a very good leadership group and a very good coaching team,” van Graan said.
“I can understand when people get carried away or when people make statements and that is part and parcel of professional rugby.
“All we can do is focus on our process and inside the HPC [High Performance Centre] we are all pretty calm and pretty composed. It was a normal week for us.
“I think we were better tonight compared to last week. It came down to using opportunities, and I think we did that better tonight. We took our points. We stayed in the game in a pretty tight Irish derby.”
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) January 8, 2022
Criticism is unlikely to end despite Ulster win.
Although Munster did very well to beat Ulster in a game which they played with 14 men for 65 minutes, it wasn’t exactly an entertaining free-flowing encounter.
Much of the criticism directed towards Munster has been about the style of their play, rather than their results, and although the conditions were far from ideal at Thomond Park, they still showed a distinct lack of variety in attack.
Munster’s best attacking performance in recent times was their win against Wasps, in which 12 players made their senior debuts and academy coach Ian Costello took charge of the side, as van Graan and much of the squad were in quarantine.
The win against Ulster is likely to keep some criticism at bay, although many will still want to see more attacking ambition from Munster.