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"Some of them aren't good enough" | Inefficient forwards hampering Munster's progress

As Munster prepare for a decisive Heineken Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 in Paris this weekend, Alan Quinlan diagnosed the issues that are currently inhibiting the Irish province and some of its star players from performing to a higher standard. 

If Friday night's Pro 14 clash between Ulster and Munster does serve to influence the selection of Andy Farrell's first Irish XV, the hotly-anticipated question of who will serve as Ireland's scrum-half may well find an answer in Ulster's John Cooney.

Heralded as a capable replacement for the out-of-form Conor Murray, Alan Quinlan, speaking on Monday's OTB AM, isn't convinced that the extent of Murray's issues are entirely of his own making, however.

"He is struggling," conceded Quinlan, "[but that is] because it is a dog-fight a lot of the time to get the ball back."

"What no one should accept from Munster is their pack going to Belfast and being bullied around the field. I think it is very hard for Conor Murray to play well behind that.

"When you're struggling a little bit with form as a scrum-half, you rely on the fellas in front of you to deliver good ball.

"Now, that doesn't take away from the fact that he looks a little bit unsettled, a little bit unhappy in himself, and I'm not saying that he is or that there's something going on, but I just think he's probably a little bit frustrated."

My biggest criticism of any Munster team over the years is if you're not up for the fight when you put on the jersey, it is a problem. It is a problem for me and it's a problem for anyone who has ever worn that jersey

Munster

Although Alan Quinlan admits that John Cooney's current form outstrips what Murray has presented throughout much of 2019, he apportioned a good deal of the responsibility for this to the forwards playing in front of the Limerick native.

"The game at the weekend was very, very disappointing to say the least," he noted of Munster's 38-17 defeat before singling out the performance of the forwards. "It doesn't matter who you have in the back-line in my opinion if your forwards are getting beaten.

"They're getting parity in some games, losing the battle but still doing OK in other games, but there is no dominance there from the pack in front of [Murray] and it is very difficult for him to then play well.

"They didn't impose themselves [on Ulster], they didn't have any ball-carriers, didn't make hard yards, didn't win the collisions and I heard some people talking about desire and that is a part of it as well, but there should be a bit of pride in it as well."

Somewhat reluctant to dwell on the issue of pride and desire or the lack thereof, Quinlan nevertheless believed that Friday's performance did not meet the expectations established within Munster.

"My biggest criticism of any Munster team over the years is if you're not up for the fight when you put on the jersey, it is a problem," he outlined. "It is a problem for me and it's a problem for anyone who has ever worn that jersey.

"As I said, I'm not sitting here saying I was perfect and I often needed a kick up the backside myself, but there is a responsibility."

In contrast to Munster teams of years gone by, however, Quinlan conceded that certain sections of this current crop may simply not be up to the required standard.

"Some of them are not good enough," he said of the province's forwards. "That is the harsh reality of it.

"Some of them are underperforming, some of them are out of form and it just takes one or two in any team to be a little bit off and it snowballs."

You can watch back Alan Quinlan's assessment of the weekend's rugby in its entirety here

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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Alan Quinlan Irish Rugby Johann Van Graan Munster Rassie Erasmus

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