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Highlights on Off The Ball

Rassie Erasmus urges players to take risks ahead of Racing clash

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has applauded the courage his players have shown in rece...

Rassie Erasmus urges players t...

Rassie Erasmus urges players to take risks ahead of Racing clash

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has applauded the courage his players have shown in recent weeks and urged them to take risks during games.

Speaking in relation to Munster's victory over Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht last weekend, Erasmus cited one phase of play where Ian Keatley executed a crossfield kick to team-mate Andrew Conway deep in their own territory. 

"I think it's decisions like that which one must encourage and if it doesn't come off, one must not say it's the end of the world," he said this week.

"If a player trusts himself with his execution and his skills, then it's wonderful. We'd like to encourage that. We accept that sometimes we'll lose games by doing things like that. I'm glad Ian [Keatley] is getting there. He's certainly getting better and better every game.

"I thought the boys tactically, especially against the wind in the first half, played well. Second half I thought Pat Lam's boys did really well to put us under pressure. Overall I think it's a different game, but the boys did well.

"Maybe it wasn't the most enjoyable match to watch for the spectator, but as a coach and as a playing team you are happy when you play in weather like that and get a result."

Rassie Erasmus (right) and  Jacques Nienabe take training on Monday afternoon. Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Irish province travel to Paris this Saturday to take on Top14 side Racing 92 in a rescheduled Champions Cup pool game, originally set to take place last October.

It was here that Munster first learned of the death of head coach Anthony Foley, but Erasmus insists the team will try and execute their game-plan as normal and not be taken by the emotional significance of the occasion.

"It's a difficult one. We try to do what we do weekly when we prepare to incorporate Axel in the way he wanted us to play. From team and coaching meetings to video sessions, we've talked about things like that. We try to keep it a constant thing and something that is always there. That's the way we want to remember him.

"This week it will be amplified and we'll help one another. We're play our game and hope that it looks like what we stand for, the way he wanted us to play.

"There's things from his office to where he would sit on the bus, small things. I actually see that as a positive. He was someone that you enjoyed and someone who was positive for you. You would rather have him more in your thoughts. That's the way we like to see it."

Speaking about the fact that Munster have this game in hand following their good start to the Champions Cup he said: "That sometimes is not a good thing. After this weekend the game is gone and if you don't get a win you're all of a sudden second on the table.

"It gives you a little bit of a distorted picture. After this weekend, we would have played all the team in our pool and we'll know where we stand. We don't get carried away, by Saturday evening we'll know where we stand."

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