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Munster will go on without Erasmus despite hard year

 

By Cian Tracey

Amidst the obvious disappointment of Munster preparing to make the long goodbye to Rassie Erasmus, CJ Stander candidly put the whole situation into perspective.

"The worst thing is walking out on a Friday and seeing Axel and walking in on Monday and he's not there.

"This man (Erasmus) will still be there, and we can still see him and even give him a call afterwards, even if he's in South Africa, and say, "I'm struggling with this" and get some advice. This is the easy part."

The bonds that were forged in what was a horrendously difficult last season will remain, and having dealt with the tragic passing of Anthony Foley (Axel) in such a remarkable way, there is a resilience amongst this group of players that won't be damaged when Erasmus does pack his bags and head for home.

When exactly that will be is still unclear. Erasmus will leave when Munster find his successor, and he is happy to stay in Ireland until that happens.

Whether the South African Rugby Union will be as understanding remains to be seen.

"If I have to stay seven months, if I have to leave after a week, so long as the club is fine," the soon-to-be new Springboks director of rugby said.

"I know how the wheel turns and I never want the relationship between Munster and myself to reach the point where we could never work together again.

"I am supporting them and we are going to make sure the club is in the right spot before I leave.

"My priority is when Munster is okay. Of course they are allowing me to go. They could have said, "Stay, you've got a contract".

Such was the pride and dignity that Erasmus led Munster with last season, he has left his mark but he leaves with a considerable amount of unfinished business.

The Munster show will go on, as it always does, and while Erasmus' departure might have been handled better, the reality is the new season starts next weekend and they need to hit the ground running.

"Teams adjust and teams come through situations like this," Erasmus reasoned.

"What we had to go through last year compared to what we are going through this year, this is a breeze compared to last year.

"Blame me for leaving. I made the decision to leave. Last year when Munster got myself in and we brought Jacques (Nienaber) in, hopefully it was a good job Munster did to get us in. And Munster is now working really hard to get the right guy in.

"Last year it was, "Would Anthony and Rassie be able to work together? How is it going to work? How can they get a director of rugby?'

"Sometimes Munster do a lot of things right, which sometimes doesn't get all the credit; I'm talking on the administration side of things.

"I really think last year was much tougher than me leaving right now."

Erasmus admitted that he did feel "guilty" about signing players over the last year, and in particular the ones who were recruited in recent months, but he insisted that there is no ill-feeling in the dressing room.

"I feel embarrassed but they made me understand quite clearly that they didn't come here to play to be coached by me, they came here to play for Munster," he maintained.

"That was one of my biggest worries.

"I didn't think I'd be departing when I was recruiting those players. But apart from that, we've put some good plans in place."

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