Munster boss in touch with reality
PRO14 SPOTLIGHT: Munster coach Johann van Graan is fully aware that the Pro14 giants' chance of winning the title is far from guaranteed.
Just a few weeks ago the Ireland side were set to challenge for two titles, European Champions Cup and Pro14, but after a 22-27 defeat to Racing 92 halted any ambitions of lifting a European Champions Cup title.
However, a 24-all draw to Ulster last weekend made sure Munster book a quarter-final date with Edinburgh this weekend.
A win at the Thomond Park on Saturday will set up a semi-final against the inform Leinster.
Munster coach Van Graan, who has only been at the helm for five months, revealed to the Irish times that despite being it a knock-out macth he will not modify his side's preparations. And refused to put any extra pressure on the players.
"When you’re the head coach you take all the responsibility. I’m just taking it day by day, you know my motto, start at zero at the start of every single week," Van Graan told the Irish Times.
"The brilliant thing is you’ve got a coaching staff and a management team around you and some quality players. The head coach in my opinion always takes the responsibility and it’s nice to have players and coaches and management who also take responsibility for their areas on a weekend when it doesn’t go that well.
"I’ve enjoyed it. That’s why I came here, to develop and to be better and to hopefully be part of a team that’s very successful this year and hopefully in the years to come. So, I’ve enjoyed every single minute of it.
"I think the thing about being a coach, your highs are very high and your lows are very low, it’s also sometimes a very lonely place. But that’s why you coach and there’s no better feeling than your team going out like that second half on Saturday and you see them fighting for every single minute,"
Munster, who last won the Pro14 title in 2011, will be without the service of prop John Ryan (back) but could receive a timely boost with the return of hooker Naill Scannel and South African centre Jaco Taute for the Edinburgh encounter.
Van Graan said that Richard Cockerill's Edinburgh, who have won eight out of their last nine Pro14 games, he has not been surprised by the quality shown by Scotsmen this season and is in no doubt about the task they face.
"They’ve got a quality coach, I think he’s one of the best coaches in the world, they’ve got a lot of belief and they’ve got a very simple plan, so I think they’ll come here with nothing to lose. They haven’t been in this situation a lot, they’re playing away from home, I think they’ll give it everything they’ve got.
"Knockout games, like every game of rugby, are funny things. Pressure’s a funny thing, so from our side we hope we start well and apply some pressure and we hope we can put some points on the board.
"Hopefully it will count in our advantage. Once it gets into the last 20 minutes and maybe scores are close, who knows what might happen. So very difficult to predict, all I can say is it’s a quality side that I respect, I respect their coach.
"I’ve said it once before with Jordan Larmour’s try on December 26, the Leinster try, you’ve also got to give credit and all credit to Edinburgh. They’ve come from my perception, I won’t say from nowhere but nobody’s seen them coming and a lot of guys still don’t see them but they are a red-hot team, playing some fantastic rugby,"