Glasgow Warriors are licking their wounds after undergoing their very own “Glexit” from Europe on Sunday afternoon but if the players are inclined to feel sorry for themselves they had better think again.
If there is one Guinness Pro12 team Glasgow would rather avoid right now it is Munster, so you can probably guess who are lining up in Cork to welcome the Warriors come Saturday evening.
Gregor Townsend’s men start the weekend ten points behind the last play-off place and are already struggling.
It is six long years since Glasgow last missed out on the league play-offs and the irony is not lost on anyone that they may do so again shortly after their first appearance in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals, but assistant coach Kenny Murray hasn’t given up all hope just yet.
“One thing that we will do is we will always be optimistic,” he said. “If there is a chance to do something then we will always believe that we can do it.”
Glasgow may be presenting a brave face but there was something worrying about the manner of last Sunday’s loss. Saracens are a great side but, just as Scotland froze at Twickenham, Glasgow also failed to do much of what they had promised on the day.
We expected a more competitive showing from the Warriors who, let’s not forget, have been good on the road in this competition. So what went wrong?
“We were meticulous in our preparation,” replied a puzzled Murray. “When we knew we had reached the latter stages and who we were playing, the coaches started the preparation way back then. We had two months of preparation building up to this.
”It is a really hard one to put your finger on and this is something we have discussed as a coaching group and together with the players. Why did we not do what we set out to do? Should the preparation have been different? Should we have done something else that we did not do?
”The first 20 to 30 minutes of the game was a real focus for us, we really wanted to make an imprint on the game and impose ourselves, but we didn’t do that.
“Was it because it was the quarter-final of the European Cup? Was it that kind of game? Was it the early kick-off? Who knows?”
Murray is keen to look forward rather than back, “today is the last time we will be talking about the Saracens game” although he may have second thoughts when he sees what is coming down the tracks.
Munster have become Glasgow’s bogey team; playing the Warriors three times already this season and winning all three matches, including that emotionally charged encounter just after the death of coach Anthony Foley and that nail-biting Europe pool game at Scotstoun, when Glasgow did everything asked of them except win the match.
Just like Saracens, Munster take pride in their physical approach to all things rugby so what is it that makes Murray think that the Warriors can beat their jinx side this time?
“We have lost three games to Munster,” says Murray, “two of them have been tight but one certainly was not. We have a really strong belief that we are a good side.
“Last year we played over in Cork and had a really tight game again, losing that by a couple of points. A lot of it is about self belief, dealing with that physicality people have spoken about. They are a physical team.
”One of the key bits of learning from the weekend was that we have to do what we do best and we did not do that. It was about focusing on ourselves, playing our game that we believe will beat Munster, being disciplined and matching their physicality. We believe we can win.”
Oddly enough after such a physical encounter on Sunday and the short week to prepare before Munster on Saturday, Murray insists that Glasgow have no new injury scares excepting co-captain Jonny Gray who suffered a bang to the head early in the Sarries match.
With a six-day turnaround it will be tight but Gray may yet be available for Saturday’s league game where a win is absolutely vital as Murray acknowledges.
“Every game is a must-win for us now,” he claims, “anyone who says different is lying.”