Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham says a number of players are still dealing with the mental scars of Saturday's defeat to Leinster, but says they'll park all frustrations when they face Toulouse this weekend.
The 16-6 PRO14 final loss was Munster's sixth in a row against their neighbours, who lifted their fourth consecutive title in the process.
In seasons past, defeat to Leinster in the semi finals of the competition would have been the final game of their campaign, but their attention now turns towards the last 16 of the Heineken Champions Cup, as four-time winners Toulouse travel to Thomond Park this Saturday.
And after giving the players two days to rest the bodies, Munster got back to work this morning at the HP centre in Limerick. Speaking this afternoon, senior coach Stephen Larkham says some of the players are still dealing with the frustrations of Saturday's defeat at the RDS.
"We want to be mentally and physically refreshed on Saturday as opposed to right now.
"I think some of the guys are still struggling, some of the guys are just about over it. It's tough, we've had a couple of games against Leinster now that haven't gone our way, they've been close games, we've been probably the team that have pushed Leinster more than anybody else in the big games with full squads out there.
"It hurt, and we're still picking up our mental state at the moment. It's fair to say we're not quite there, we're not ready to play a game this afternoon or tonight, but it's expected that by the end of the week we'll build nicely.
"We've looked at our fundamentals, we've focused on those in the meetings this morning, we want to make sure that we're back to those this weekend," he said.
Stephen Larkham | Toulouse 'cup final' will focus the minds
However, despite the frustrations of their defeat to Leinster, Larkham says the challenge of Toulouse this week will soon focus the minds.
"It's tough. Any final that you lose is tough, I guess the beauty of the current situation we're in is that we've got a massive game this weekend, it's another final this weekend effectively. We have to win this to keep going in Europe.
"We put full focus into the game last week, and it was very tough to take, from a staffing point of view and a player's point of view. We gave then a couple of days off, we've come back in for the first day today, and we're moving forward. That's the beauty of where we're at right now, we have something to focus on. If we didn't have that, it would be hurting for a lot longer," he added.
'I felt sorry for Munster...'
Alan Quinlan broke down the Pro 14 Final on this morning's #OTBAM.
Watch the full chat ➡️ https://t.co/f2EWNVvd7w@GilletteUK | #MadeOfWhatMatters pic.twitter.com/oAtiZtTLNU
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) March 29, 2021
Munster legends Keith Wood and Alan Quinlan have been among those who have questioned the team's belief and gameplan after they fell short for a record sixth time in a row against their oldest rivals, while also being held scoreless for the final 40 minutes.
However Larkham has defended the team's approach to that game, insisting those 80 minutes were not a true reflection of the them.
"I wouldn't say we were flat, I think it was just one of those games that crept away from us. We've spoken a fair bit about belief this morning and I think that's a key message. Are they (Leinster) better than us? The were better than us on the day. I think that if you look at the stats they made more mistakes when they had their hands on the ball. They kicked more than us throughout the game, and there are some key moments in the game that went their way, but it was fairly evenly matched throughout the game.
"The one thing that we really take out of it is that we do have the skill there. We have the gameplan and skill there. We just got beaten by better execution in certain parts of the game."
Listen to LIVE commentary of Munster v Toulouse this Saturday on Off the Ball, with Neil Treacy joined by Keith Wood at Thomond Park.
We'll also have full match commentary of Leinster v Toulon this Friday evening, LIVE from 5.20pm in the company of Neil and Johne Murphy.
Team of Us. Everyone In.
Vodafone. The main sponsor of the Irish Rugby Team