‘We’re hurting’ – Stephen Larkham reflects on Leinster loss but says Munster must focus on Exeter

Whenever Munster lose to Leinster there is a tough period of reflection afterwards from pundits and supporters alike, and it was the same after last Saturday’s URC loss.

Inside the Reds tent, Stephen Larkham says that the management and players are “hurting” but must swiftly park the defeat with a trip to Sandy Park to face Exeter in the Champions Cup coming on Saturday.

“It was definitely hard, yeah,” said Munster’s senior coach, bristling at a non-existent suggestion that the camp hadn’t felt the defeat hard enough.

“Leinster are top of the table so you’re always challenging yourself and want to mark yourself against those teams, no different to other competitions around the world.

“The Leinster-Munster rivalry has always been there, so that’s kind of a separate one, but when Leinster are on top and we’re not on top, yeah, we kind of feel… we’re extremely disappointed in the game.

“Maybe I haven’t expressed that enough. We’ve had a really good review, a real honest look at ourselves.

“And yeah, we’re hurting. There’s no doubt we’re hurting. But we’ve got to move on. That’s the game that we’re in.

“It’s a high performance, pressure environment where you get judged on a performance, but you’ve got to let that go and you’ve got to move on straight away because if you let it linger, then it’s going to affect your next performance.

“So yeah, apologies if you feel that we’re not expressing it enough, but I guarantee you that internally, that hurt us.”

The Aussie says that Munster are looking to see where they can improve against 2020 European champs Exeter having been “three to five” percent off in different areas, indisciplined early on and inconsistent against their old rivals.

“We’re trying to identify strategic, tactical areas, physical areas, mental areas from that game that we felt we weren’t good enough in, and trying to work on those,” Larkham explained.

While the Chiefs are the short-term focus, Larkham admitted that the next meeting with Leinster, in their last regular URC fixture, and the knock-out games beyond that are also on the minds of the Munster brain trust.

“There’s short-term goals and long-term goals. We’ve obviously got to get stuff ready for Exeter,” he said.

“From our perspective we just want to continue to work on our game. We’re not changing anything, we just want to make sure that we’re a little more consistent throughout the 80 minutes.”

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