The inquest into Munster’s 22-27 defeat at the hands of Racing 92 in Sunday’s Champions Cup semi-final is well underway and there are no shortage of talking points regarding the men in red’s shortcomings.
The heat, Munster’s two-week stint in South Africa, a lack of physicality, a one-dimensional game-plan and the chronic injury list which the southern province are currently suffering from are all reasons for their performance which you are likely to have read or heard about in the last 24 hours.
Former Leinster and Ireland star, Shane Horgan, was speaking on the Second Captains podcast today as he and the rest of the panel, including former Munster centre, Barry Murphy, dissected Munster’s European exit at the hands of their French counterparts.
When asked on whether the team that went out at the Stade Chaban-Delmas on Sunday afternoon are capable of winning the Champions Cup in the future, Horgan’s answer was straight to the point, highlighting a lack of top-quality talent in that Munster 23.
“I think not, that team that went out at the weekend, I don’t think there’s enough talent in it, to be honest with you. There are too many workhorses, solid players, that are decent but they’re lacking in quality.”
Munster are missing some big players with huge experience such as Tommy O’Donnell, Chris Cloete, Chris Farrell, Jaco Taute and Tyler Bleyendaal – their presence on Sunday would have in all liklihood led to a different performance from the men in red and this is something which Horgan agrees with.
“Barry mentioned some of the players that are absent from Munster at the moment because of injury and I do think you have to say there’s a validity in saying we’re missing some of our key players this year and Munster aren’t in a position to lose a couple of back rows, a centre…There’s a huge amount of talent that hasn’t been available to them for selection in the biggest match, in France, against a highly motivated top performing French side.”
But ultimately, Horgan believes that Munster “have too many average players” available to them at the moment and unless this changes, they are unlikely to secure Champions Cup honours.
“So, I just think the team that went out, yes they have a splattering of very good players, a couple of world-class players but they have too many average players as well and where I could see Munster competing against anyone on a given day with all their armoury, I think when they don’t have that they can get shown up and to be honest with you, without overstating it, if Racing kept the foot down they could have put 50 on that team.”