“Ben won’t learn until he gets back into position to kick”
Exactly two weeks to the day after his devastating Heineken Champions Cup elimination at the hands of Toulouse, Munster returns to the heart of his heartache.
There was little time to lick their wounds here, but that could be a blessing in disguise when Munster returns up the M7 to face Leinster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
For Ben Healy in particular, this weekend is a chance to shake off his demons, although the blame for Munster’s defeat shouldn’t lie squarely with the young out-half’s feet.
Instead of focusing on Healy’s missed shots, the Munster coaches will have recognized in their video report that they had enough open play chances to beat Toulouse before the dramatic penalty shoot-out ensued.
Like Ronan O’Gara and many of the other big out-halfs before him, Healy had a difficult afternoon with the boot at a big event, but how he reacts will define him.
Not having to wait too long for a chance to make amends, particularly at the Aviva, should help the 22-year-old, who seems to have the temperament to take anything in his stride and recover.
Johann van Graan will have no hesitation in throwing Healy back into the heat of battle as the Munster head coach believes the Tipperary native has responded well to the disappointment.
“He’s a real professional,” said Van Graan. “Most quality tens want the ball in situations like this. We had a good chat about it on Saturday night right after the game when we all traveled back, with Ben, Joey (Carbery) and Conor (Murray) – the guys who were in this one position were.
“We talked about it. . . If you look at the footage, a kicker from each side kind of stands on its own.
“They said it was a very unique experience. All six went through the same thing. See, that’s part of being a goalscorer. They want the ball and Ben definitely wants to play and he definitely wants to get back in those positions.
“That’s the only way to learn. For us as a group, we win together and we lose together. It was a very unique experience and we will be all the better for it. You just have to look at some of the things that have been on Netflix during lockdown from quality teams and learn from them and other goalscorers in particular.
“A lot of guys played and a lot of guys missed. It’s about wanting that opportunity to knock it over.
Despite a major setback from Toulouse, Van Graan is adamant Munster are in a good position as they look to beat Leinster in Dublin and secure a home quarter-final in the URC.
“We had a certain continuity, we have now played several games together as a team,” added the Münster head coach.
“You’re learning too. I think we made an adjustment or two specifically after this game. We got some momentum.
“The game against Toulouse was quite disappointing because we didn’t move forward, but in terms of momentum and the way we play, there’s obviously growth for us in every part of the game.
“But as a collective we feel we’re playing pretty good rugby at this stage of the season.”
Rugby matches at weekends
United Rugby Championship: Benetton v Cardiff, Stadio Monigo, 6.0, Premier Sport 2; Ulster v Sharks, Kingspan Stadium, 7.35, TG4/BBC 2/Premier Sport 1; Ospreys v Bulls, Liberty Stadium, 10/8, Premier Sport 2
United Rugby Championship: Dragons v Lions, Rodney Parade, 3.0, Premier Sport 2; Connacht v Zebre Parma, The Sportsground, 5.0, RTÉ 2/Free Sports; Scarlets v Stormers, Parc y Scarlets, 5.10, Premier Sport 2; Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors, BT Murrayfield, 6.30, Premier Sport 1; Leinster vs Munster, Aviva Stadium, 7.15, TG4/Premier Sport 2
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/champions-cup/ben-will-only-learn-when-he-gets-in-the-positions-to-kick-again-41660902.html “Ben won’t learn until he gets back into position to kick”