‘I put the tactics in place, make sure we have the right strategy, Axel puts it into action’ — Erasmus

GIVEN HIS TEAM’s first serious hit-out is still two weeks away, it’s understandable that Rassie Erasmus is somewhat tight-lipped about how Munster will play under their new director of rugby.

The South African uses the word ‘philosophy’ freely enough, but it’s more in reference to the effort his new-look coaching staff have made to align their ideas.

Erasmus paints a picture of a hybrid game for Munster: he won’t force an expansive approach on the team until some of the sturdier elements are good and ready. Scratch that, excellent and ready.

“If there’s a standard way of doing things, and that way is world class,” comes the thick, broad yet amiable South African accent when asked what he wants to see evidence of from day one.

“Then you say, ‘do we train world class’? If we have an education system, is it world class? When you’re one-on-one with a player, when there’s a presentation from a coach or he does his fundamentals…

“It’s easy to say we want to win so many games, we want to win a cup, but some teams do it with a bit of luck and they’re nowhere after that.

“So if you can bolt (on) that world class mentality — I’m trying to, not dissect, but to look at each individual thing. And if they are world class the result will come.

“Some things we do outstanding here. Some things we do are average, which I think we’ve seen some improvements so far, but a lot we’ll have to work hard to get right.”

The very first step Erasmus planted on that road to making Munster world class again was to clarify his position. It’s a brand new role after all, and ‘director of rugby’ is anything but self-explanatory when you consider the huge variation in job description which different clubs attach to the position.

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Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Erasmus came to Limerick six weeks ago. He flew over before Ireland’s final Test against the Springboks. Defence coach Jacques Nienaber took a plane the day after the Port Elizabeth season-closer. Their haste was an effort to make sure the coaches were all on the same page in the unusual situation of having the previous boss still among the personnel.

Erasmus is an ambitious man, who refuses to hide his aim of being an international coach in or around his 50th birthday. He’s 43 now, so that leaves plenty of time for a Rassie era to take hold in Munster.

And yet the province’s first director of rugby isn’t preaching patience. He takes a sledgehammer to lip service beloved of struggling coaches.

“If we don’t see a massive improvement, we’ll all be under massive pressure.

“Massive improvement is probably relative, but for me massive improvement is winning more games than you are losing and winning more than you won last year.

“I don’t want to have the standard answer of saying: ‘here, we are inheriting a squad’ I don’t want to say that.  I want to optimise the players and coaches we have now to give the best possible results and I don’t want to say, ‘next year  I will have developed the group because I have worked with them longer’. That would be a normal answer.

“I would say: ‘with this group now I want to get the best of them now and get the results as quick as possible’.

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