Munster legend Keith Wood has called on Munster to “change his mind or change coach” in the wake of Saturday’s loss to Connacht.
The former Ireland captain made a scathing criticism of Johan van Gran’s tactics and use of the squad, saying the province should be prepared to cut ties with South Africa ahead of his proposed move to Bath at the end of the season.
Wood said he fears some of Munster’s promising young players are being “ruined” by current tactics.
Saturday’s defeat was Münster’s second defeat of the campaign, yet the manner of performance has drawn sharp criticism from Coaching Ticket.
Coincidentally or not, the performance declined as Van Gran performed a U-turn last summer by triggering a break clause in the contract to stay until 2024. Munster was poor in the win over Castres before Christmas and put up an error-shattering performance in Galway last weekend.
Wood believes the province could be better served by handing over the reins to Australian Stephen Larkham by the end of the season, even though the World Cup winner is also leaving next summer to return to the Brumbies.
Van Gran’s defense coach JP Ferreira is expected to join him in Bath, while there have been reports that Springboks RG Snemann and Jason Jenkins may also join the English club next season.
Wood, who was part of the first Munster team to reach the Heineken Cup final in 2000, said Saturday’s performance was a sign of issues under Van Gran’s tenure.
“There is no point in talking about the Munster attack, which does not exist at the present time,” he told Off the Ball.
“I’m finding it incredibly hard to watch as we’re starting to waste some players.
“If there’s even a little disruption, I want the coach to stop and play that level of crap.
“So, when I see a fella like (Craig) Casey who I think is over-hyped and I’ll definitely over-hype him because he’s incredibly exciting and can get the ball and hit the ball.” A mark of his ability to flash what you want.
“The game changes and moves in cycles and it goes into a really fast-paced game again and Munster is slowing it down more while everyone else is speeding it up.
“KC is slowing down to get there now and I don’t want to see him in the game ever again.
“He’s a little No. 9, a No. 9 who picks up the ball after it touches the ground and runs on his No. 10 or so.
“But, it continued to slow down…. it was so incredibly lacking, the lack of ambition before half-time, trying to pick up and drive when Connacht’s one-man was down.
“There was time and space on both sides and nothing happened, there was no thought process.
“The things that still frustrate me is that while Munster tries to play a style that if you have a lot of forwards you can play, Munster doesn’t have a big pack of forwards.
“There’s no value in slowing down the game.
“You want people to play with a little bit of joy and not walk around the field, I looked at (Gavin) Combs, who I’m a big fan of, and he looked one-paced.
“I know it was a bad day, but that’s Van Gran’s indictment, that he hasn’t been able to play his players at pace.
“If he expects the team to play, no one is happy with it.”
When asked how he would approach over the next few weeks, Wood said Luckham could play a key role.
“I would say someone like Luckham who is there and who is leaving at the end of the year, I would say ‘Stephen, there is an expectation that you can play the players if you are given the role of temporary head coach at the end of the season, Can you do that? See if you can turn Munster into something that can excite the crowd’,’ he said.
“I like Van Gran, I get on fine with him, but his comment later that it was a derby and it was going to be very hard, it’s a sweet comment if you’ve shown some effort, but really no effort.” Wasn’t shown, didn’t put any thought into that game.
“I look at the team, I see a lot of young people who have got a chance… I’m also a little disappointed with the selection, I don’t think we should change and change as much as we do.
“The idea of giving players match time, no. Getting the team to play properly is the most important thing at the moment and I don’t know that Munster is doing that.
“Look, I think it’s very tough. There are a lot of really good players out there, I don’t think they’re world champions, but any new coach that comes to Munster needs to be a coach who will be able to help those players. sees what they have at their disposal and has to improvise, to play a style that suits them.
“At the present time I do not know whether any of these things are true.”
Wood says that Munster should first speak to Van Gran during the final months of his term.
“He’s gone, he’s leaving. What I see is a team that’s going to play against Connacht and Connacht, a very good team….they’re trying to win, from losing Don’t be afraid
“When I look at Munster at the moment, it’s almost about winning.
“The discipline was bad, the energy… I don’t know what’s going on in the coaching set-up or the training, but if it’s the limits and energy limits of the big game, before Christmas then something’s not right.
“Whether it’s because the players think the coach is gone or the coach isn’t getting his message, there’s not going to be a wholesale change in players.
“The rumor is that a lot of South Africans who have come with him will be gone and I don’t know if that’s true, I hope it’s not.
“But, you’re looking at the game and saying ‘go, play at speed’.
“The way Munster played over the weekend, the way he played against Leinster over the years and the Saracens before that, there must be a limited style to stay in the game.
“It hasn’t been good enough down the line, now it’s not good enough for a team that isn’t at the top of the tree.
“That’s what I’m saying, you say to Van Gran ‘Are you willing to stop slowing it down?’
“Change the mindset or change the coach. I don’t know if they will. It’s not something that usually happens, we’re seeing a lot of young Munster players in the system, they need to be able to play and need the game.” To be able to grow in.”