Erasmus faces selection headache

Date published: December 7 2016

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasus has a selection headache ahead of Saturday’s European Champions Cup clash with Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park.

The Irish province won every competitive game during the international window, and played a wonderful brand of rugby in the process, but Erasmus now has some tough choices to make as all internationals return to the provincial fold for Saturday’s European clash.

With Peter O’Mahony and Donnacha Ryan featuring in Friday night’s win over Glasgow, the last remaining returnees – Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, CJ Stander and Keith Earls – are all available for selection this weekend, leaving Erasmus with much to ponder, especially in the back three where Ronan O’Mahony, Darren Sweetnam and Andrew Conway have impressed in recent weeks.

“It is a headache for a coach but for a squad it’s good,” Erasmus told Munster’s official website.

“For the players it’s good because we have to manage their game time and make sure everybody peaks at the right time. There are one or two guys coming back from injury that will be difficult to manage to get them the right amount of game time – a few of them may play with the ‘A’ side (away to Rotherham Titans) this weekend. In some positions we are doing great and are actually overstocked and in other positions we are one injury away from being really thin. We have a pretty solid squad but we know that one training session can change that but hopefully it stays the same.”

Involvement in both the Champions Cup and British and Irish Cup sees 45 players required for competitive action this weekend. Just as well then that, barring a couple of injuries, the squad is in good stead as it heads into a crucial part of the season.

“Playing against Leicester, certainly everybody knows they beat us away and at home last year so they will be confident of beating us again,” added Erasmus.

“After studying them, they are tactically really smart and physically they are always really up for it so it’s a massive challenge. Every week there always seems to be a history with the opposition so I’m learning quickly about that. It’s another big one with a lot of history and interesting results and one-on-one battles against each other so I will be learning again this weekend.”

With well over 23,000 tickets now sold, Erasmus and his men are looking forward to more rapturous support from the stands and terraces of Thomond Park come kick-off on Saturday.

“It’s great. The people want to see effort and honour and if the results come with that then it’s great but as long as you really show the effort and honour while playing and really wear that jersey with pride and give everything. I think the fans here are knowledgeable enough to understand when it was a good win, when it was a lucky win and when it was a good effort. We just want to make them proud with the effort we put out there.”