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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 April, 2014

We’re on the bottom of that pit but there’s light at the end of the tunnel – Rob Penney

The Kiwi coach admitted after his team’s bonus point victory that Munster are far from the finished article.

Rob Penney (and TheScore.ie microphone) at the post-match press conference at Thomond Park.
Rob Penney (and TheScore.ie microphone) at the post-match press conference at Thomond Park.
Image: Patrick McCarry - TheScore.ie

MUNSTER COACH ROB PENNEY has told TheScore.ie that his Munster side are emerging from ‘a pit’ after they scored four tries against Edinburgh to secure a bonus point win and a scoreline of 33-0.

The New Zealander is just three months into his tenure at Munster and freely admits that he is instigating a ground change in the province’s style of play.

However, while Munster showed signs of attacking abandon in the opening weeks of the season, a high error count had led to four defeats from their last five matches.

“You can’t impose things on players,” said Penney. “They’ve got to want to take it onto the field and then deliver because once they cross the white line they are autonomous and can do whatever they want.

“(With) the pressures that have been on the group in the last couple of weeks, for them to come into work and there is still a vibe about ‘how can we go better, improve and we believe in what we are doing’ is heart-warming from a coaching perspective.”

He added, “If I can’t answer their questions and can’t confidently explain why we should continue going down this path and do things when I’m challenged then I don’t even have a right to ask the guys to do it.”

The pit

Penney acknowledged that there had been criticisms coming in from most quarters as the Munster revolution stuttered in September and early October.

He commented, “People are saying it in the public arena, ‘Why don’t you just go back?’

I’ve explained to the lads that when you are going through anything new as an athlete, you go through a dark place. They call it the pit. You’re down in the pit for a while and it is very frustrating, it’s a horrible place to be as it’s so easy to go back.

“But when you pop out of it, the sun’s a lot brighter and you can far exceed anything that you would have been able to do previously.

“We’re on that bottom of that pit, still, trying to work our way out but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added that the real results should become evident in the coming months once the playing and coaching staff, as well as the Munster supporters, keep faith in the process.

In control of our destiny

Penney highlighted Conor Murray, Paul O’Connell, Dave Kilcoyne and Sean Dougall as players worthy of praise and noted that out-half Ian Keatley ‘drove the side around more authoritatively’.

“With 20 to go (Edinburgh) were out on their feet,” he told TheScore.ie. ”Hence our desire to go for the bonus point even though it didn’t really look like we were capable of it earlier on.”

He turned his thoughts to the December pool matches against Saracens, who currently lead Pool 1. Penney said:

The critical thing is that we’ve got a couple of massive games pre-Christmas against Saracens and we’re still masters of our own destiny in that regard. If we do well, we’re in the hunt whether we get bonus points or not.

“They are looming as critical matches,” he added. “Whoever dominates those will be in a pretty good place.

“We’re one game away from potentially leapfrogging them.”

Reaction: Old Munster dogs deliver same, stunning tricks for bonus point win

As it happened: Munster v Edinburgh, Heineken Cup

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