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Munster staff warned after Saracens fallout: Larkham

 

Seeing red: Tempers fray at the end of the clash between Saracens and Munster
Seeing red: Tempers fray at the end of the clash between Saracens and Munster

By Ruaidrhi O'Connor

Munster have spoken to members of staff manning the sidelines to remind them of the restrictions of their role in the wake of the melee during Saturday's loss to Saracens.

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Senior coach Stephen Larkham said the province would allow tournament organisers EPCR to deal with the set-to which kicked off between their head of medical Dr Jamie Kearns and England hooker Jamie George at Allianz Park.

Dr Kearns apologised to the player and Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall for his comments and an investigation into the incident is under way.

Munster are focusing on their visit to Galway on Saturday to face Connacht, but their support staff have been made aware of their responsibilities this week.

"Everyone knew that anyway, but we reiterated it to everyone as a good lesson for everyone. The 15 players on the field are the 15 players who can take part with anything on the field," the former Australia out-half said.

"It's all been dealt with. We've had a couple of good days in training now, we're very much focused on the weekend.

"Both parties have apologised for what went on and we're trying to move past it now.

"We've agreed it's not something that was a great spectacle, but we're certainly moving on now. Everyone has apologised and we're moving forward."

When he played the game, Larkham always looked like a man who rose above the madness.

Nowadays, he seems to come at things with the same cool detachment that served him so well in the No.10 jersey. Quietly spoken and studious, the province's senior coach speaks with a firm belief in what he's doing as he looks to turn Munster from contenders into champions.

On Saturday, he got an 80-minute look at the standard-bearers and felt his players were not too far away.

Saracens pulled away at the end in what has become an increasingly familiar sight, but reviews of the game have confirmed Munster's sense that they have closed the gap in the months since the sides last met in the Champions Cup semi-final.

"If you compare the semi-final last year with the game we played at the weekend, we are miles ahead of where we were at, and I think everyone feels that within the team," said Larkham.

"At the same time, we have a fair bit of improvement within the team and we've spoken a little bit about that this week. We've got a game against Connacht and some of the players who played at the weekend aren't going to be here this week, but we'll take some lessons.

"We took (the loss) pretty hard, there was a fair bit of emotion in the changing room. It was a game I felt we prepped really well for, having beaten them the week before, and, having put in a fairly strong performance for the majority of that game, the boys, and everyone involved, were bitterly disappointed.

"So it's going to be difficult now for us in Europe. We certainly know what we need to do to get to the finals, which is win every game from here on in, which is what we were up against at the start of the season anyway.

"Nothing has really changed in terms of that, but there is a fair bit of disappointment."

That's the challenge for a team who will now rest their fit World Cup players for the next two games against Connacht and Leinster, before ramping things up again for the trip to face Ulster and their season-defining clash with Racing 92 in Paris.

They're dealing with an increasingly extensive injury list, with Tadhg Beirne a long-term absentee due to his broken ankle and Peter O'Mahony out for a shorter spell with his groin.

Joey Carbery, however, could be back to face Leinster in Christmas week if he reacts well to the increased training load this week.

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