Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony made headlines on Wednesday as their comments about their newest teammate Gerbrandt Grobler featured prominently across the papers.
'He was young and foolish. He paid the price for it' – O’Mahony and Murray stands by Gerbrandt Grobler was the angle in the Irish Independent.
‘O’Mahony and Murray stand by Gerbrandt Grobler amid media scrutiny’ so said The Mirror. All of the stories carried the quotes.
Don’t blame the media they were just relaying the facts, don’t blame the players they were just doing what their employers told them to do.
Murray and O’Mahony deserved more. They were put in an impossible position and in some sense appears they were hung out to dry by the powers that be at the province.
They didn’t cheat, they didn’t have any part in the recruitment of a cheat, but now they were expected to go out and face the media, put on a united front and defend the cheat.
The line: “He did the crime, he served the time.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Interviewed Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray today and they came out in support of Gerbrandt Grobler <a href="https://t.co/3KP3U067Jy">pic.twitter.com/3KP3U067Jy</a></p>— Sinéad Kissane (@sineadkissane) <a href="https://twitter.com/sineadkissane/status/953328487204565004?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The player's own feelings and thoughts likely did not figure in the narrative they presented to the press when the questions inevitably came. They were there to do the job, and on that particular day the job involved blindly defending a bad decision from their province.
They were damned no matter what they said; express the view that cheating is unforgivable and dopers should face lengthy bans would only serve to piss off their employers.
Sharing their real feelings and any potential reservations about the message sent by employing a drugs cheat would not be best for business.
Brian O’Driscoll predicted the outcome of yesterday’s press conference when he appeared on Off the Ball last week.
Dave McIntyre "They are going to have to answer the question at press conferences, you say to Conor Murray 'What are your thoughts on having a convicted drugs cheat as one of your team-mates?’”
O'Driscoll knows the story, the party line is more important than your personal opinion: "Do you know what his line will be?” He countered.
"'Well, he's served his ban and he made an error and everyone deserves a second opportunity'.
"That will be the line, but you won't get a sense of what people truly believe."
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XwnDhNG0ljM" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Munster left the newly appointed coach Johann van Grann and their two of their most experienced players to fight the fire that has reignited following the signing of Grobler last summer.
The fans deserve answers, even if they are still blindly prepared to back the provinces’ decision. The players deserve answers even if they are prepared to publicly support the drugs cheat they now share a dressing room with.
The IRFU have trumpeted a zero-tolerance policy to doping in rugby, t-shirts and press releases won't do now. Explain when that policy was dumped and why. The men who made the decision need to stand by it and own it.
If they want to make it into a game of Media v Munster then lining up the players as punch bags is cheating, perhaps that is something the province and the IRFU are now prepared to overlook.