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Mixed emotions for Erasmus after Munster rout

Munster 51 Cheetahs 18

By Cian Tracey

Such was the ease with which Munster ripped the Cheetahs to shreds, you had to wonder what was going through Rassie Erasmus’ head.

Here he was watching his current team shorn of the majority of their front-liners destroying a South African side who, deep down, Erasmus will be desperate to see do well.

After all, the 44-year-old will return home in a matter of months to assume control of the Springboks and woeful displays like the Cheetahs delivered in Thomond Park on Saturday won’t sit well with the soon-to-be new supremo of South African rugby.

For now at least, Erasmus can reflect on another job well done and while he rightly moved to dampen the expectations in Munster, there were plenty of positives in the eight-try demolition job.

To include two Academy players in the starting XV — Liam O’Connor and Sean O’Connor — and to see both of them bully their opposite numbers was hugely impressive, while a recent graduate in Alex Wootton grabbed the headlines with a four-try haul. The Cheetahs, like their South African compatriots the Kings, haven’t exactly endeared themselves to the Guinness PRO14 in their opening two games. Conceding 93 points and 14 tries will do that.

Erasmus spent time with the Cheetahs back-room team in Limerick last week, but he insisted that sympathy was in short supply.

“No, I am full-on Munster,” he said. “They are my friends, but when we play Saracens, Schalk Burger is there who is one of my friends, and Schalk Brits is there, but I definitely want to beat them because I am Munster and they are Saracens.

“My love is with Munster because of not just what I went through, but because I am working for them and my loyalty is still here.

“But yeah, (there is) no conflict of interest.”

On the pitch, the messy coaching situation certainly hasn’t had an negative impact on the players, but with two tough trips to the Ospreys and Glasgow coming up, Erasmus’ sense of realism is fully justified.

“It’s nice to have that, but as I say, I have also seen things happen, we are playing really well and then the next week you get a massive smack in the face,” the director of rugby maintained.

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