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Peter Stringer puts boot in on Munster's lame URC exit

By Stefan Frost
Ben Healy of Munster after the United Rugby Championship Quarter-Final match between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Former Ireland great Peter Stringer slammed the lukewarm performance of Munster on Friday night as they crashed out of the URC playoffs following a 36-17 loss to provincial rivals Ulster.

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Now out of both the Heineken Champions Cup and URC, the Johann van Graan era has come to an end in rather underwhelming fashion.

Stringer – himself a two-time Heineken Cup winner with Munster – was sad to see his former side flounder on their way to conceding five tries.

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“It was very disappointing, it just seemed like the attitude wasn’t there [on Friday],” the former scrum-half told RTÉ Sport.

“From minute one the team seemed to be playing as individuals, there were a lot of errors. They were not focused on the game. For a Munster side in a knockout game, it felt like a pre-season game.”

Munster last won the league back in 2011, but managed to reach the Pro14 final last season, falling to Leinster at the final hurdle.

2021/22 has been a mixed campaign for Munster. Despite some impressive performances on the European stage, Munster’s league form has been patchy.  The loss to Ulster has now extinguished all hope of silverware, leaving critics to run the rule over Van Graan’s mediocre rein as head coach in Limerick.

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“The frustration lies around a couple of good games in Europe, Exeter and Toulouse, and the Ulster [regular-season] away game, some really good performances. There was so much at stake, this Munster side need to win something, they want to win something.

“They didn’t exude confidence. Those simple basics: aggression at the breakdown, carry hard, latching on, simple things that don’t take a huge amount of talent. Simple unforced errors. The players have got to put their hands up and take responsibility.”

Fellow pundit Bernard Jackman went on to question why Van Graan remained the figurehead at the club after he handed in his notice before Christmas to confirm a move to Bath.

“I think it’s a difficult task for [incoming head coach] Graham Rowntree,” said the former Leinster hooker. “I think Munster made a mistake not letting Johann go six months ago because now you don’t know how Graham is a head coach. He’s got to learn.

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