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Irish Internationals Not Doing Enough To Fill O'Connell's Void Is The Biggest Reason For Munster's Form

Irish Internationals Not Doing Enough To Fill O'Connell's Void Is The Biggest Reason For Munster's Form
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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The hardest part of replacing Paul O'Connell in Munster was never going to be finding a capable second row. Munster did extremely well to bring in the quality of Mark Chisholm to compliment Donnacha Ryan and Dave Foley, but the main loss from O'Connell's departure is his leadership - and Munster are missing that badly.

This is further compounded by the loss of Peter O'Mahony and Tommy O'Donnell through injuries. O'Donnell is hugely experienced player, and O'Mahony's natural leadership abilities would be huge to a Munster team looking devoid of leaders at the moment.

In his column in the Irish Independent, Alan Quinlan has called on Munster's senior players to step up. Conor Murray has shown so much ability to step up when needed - both when he first broke into the Munster team, then when he established himself with Ireland and the Lions. Now, Munster need him to take control and lead by example and it's not there yet.

With this dearth of experience at the helm, we need to see more of Munster's more experienced players stepping forward to set an example.

Guys like Conor Murray, Keith Earls, Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo - it's up to them now to lift their input in the province.


CJ Stander has been handed the captaincy in O'Mahony's absence, and while the No. 8 has shown the capabilities to carry the team by himself - as a captain he needs more help. He's a former South African U-20 captain, and will be a leader for Munster and Ireland in the next five to ten years, but he needs the likes of Ryan, Earls, Zebo, and Murray to help him.

CJ Stander is the captain and he is a leader by example. He never fails to surpass expectations as a back-row, but he is a young player who is very new to the role of captaining his province. It's his job to communicate with the referee, keep his team-mates on track, read the game and do his own job.

Quinlan points out how hard being a captain actually is, and why we see the likes of O'Mahony, O'Driscoll, or Heaslip struggle with the burden when they first took the job:

I only ever captained Munster once, against Ulster, and even though we won and it went okay for me, I found it a difficult experience trying to do so many jobs at once.

When O'Mahony started he was a bit of a greenhorn, but crucially, he had some hugely experienced players alongside him for guidance.

It really shows up when Munster are playing like they are now, with no O'Connell or O'Mahony to guide them through the adversity they are facing:

Not having Peter or Tommy O'Donnell fit to play at the same time was a bit of a double blow. O'Mahony has been groomed for a couple of seasons as the natural successor. Since he came in the door he oozed leadership qualities, so not having that calm, level head out there on match day is bound to create a vacuum.

Munster are staring at the barrel of a fourth successive loss when they travel to Welford Road tomorrow, and a defeat would put the province on the precipice of a European exit.


[Irish Independent]

See Also: Anthony Foley Isn't To Blame For Munster's Struggles

See Also: The First Pictures Of Paul O'Connell In A Toulon Jersey

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