Gavin Cummiskey joined the Sunday Paper Review to discuss Munster, Johann Van Graan and Stephen Larkham.
Stephen Larkham was one of the most exciting rugby players of a generation.
He understood how to play off-the-cuff rugby while still maintaining the integrity of attacking structures. Larkham was worth the admission price alone more often than not. That is why Munster fans were so excited when he arrived in Limerick. Larkham, working with Joey Carbery, should have produced fireworks in Thomond Park every week.
Carbery's injuries meant we never really got to see them work together for a prolonged period.
But Larkham has had plenty of time in Munster to imprint his identity on the team. Yet, years later, Musnter's attack is more limited than Joe Schmidt's Ireland was at the end. In recent weeks they've been particularly poor, reverting to one-out runners and kicking the ball away too often.
Now that Larkham is leaving towards the end of the season, it's hard to figure out just how it all went so wrong. Not even necessarily that it went wrong, but the way in which it went wrong. Gavin Cummiskey of the Irish Times joined the Sunday Paper Review to discuss Musnter, Johann Van Graan and Larkham.
"Stephen Larkham the player and Stephen Larkham the coach are two completely different entities," Cummiskey said.
"If Larkham was of the same coaching standard as Andy Friend or Stuart Lancaster we would have heard or seen it by now as an attack coach. We just simply haven't. Now he's off. There's a really telling line [from Bernard Jackman], 'His contacts in Australia say he's a conservative coach by nature with a fondness for kicking.'"
The lack of development of some of Munster's young players has also stood out. Thomas Ahearn is one of the most exciting young players in Europe. He never plays though as Van Graan's coaching staff turns to grizzled veterans instead. Larkham arrived at the perfect time to build an identity with the likes of Ahearn, Craig Casey, Jack Crowley and Ben Healy.
But he never did.
It's a missed opportunity for both Musnter and Larkham, because the talent in the province is definitely there and there is precedent for coaches coming into Ireland and turning their careers around. Larkham was jettisoned from the Australia coacing staff before arriving in Munster.
He returns to Australia with fewer options than when he left previously.
"How did Larkham get here? What happened? Didn't Cheika just throw him to the wolves when he was trying to keep his own job in the Australia backroom. Lancaster arrived here at a very low ebb, Andy Friend didn't come in here with this massive reputation so Ireland can become a place for rebuilding your reputation if you're a good coach."
Jack Crowley creates a problem for Munster, Ireland and the IRFU
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