British and Irish Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray is wary of the Rassie Erasmus’ ‘sub-plot’
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DURBAN - British & Irish Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray was coached by Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber for 18 months at Munster but that has not made him any the wiser as to what Erasmus is up to with his controversial social media antics over the last fortnight of the Test series.
The South African pair were at Munster in 2016 and 2017 and left when Erasmus was appointed as the new SA Rugby Director in 2018, and that was more than enough time for Murray to gain a powerful insight into their psyche.
Erasmus and Nienaber have been mates since they were young men in the South African army and they have coached together since their early days at the Cheetahs in 2004-2006, right the way through to the present day. Murray says the pair have a “good cop, bad cop relationship”.
“I don't know what his game-plan is with (Rassie on) Twitter,” the 32-year-old said. “It's just a funny, weird thing that's going on as a subplot. I don't think it will take pressure off anyone's shoulders. We're fully aware of what will come out of the tunnel on Saturday and we've got to meet it.
“Like any coach after a defeat like that, he's going to try to pick his squad up and emotionally fire them up. Will he be trying to rev them up for that battle again and more? Probably. Rassie can say a lot of things, but he'll certainly have a definite plan of how they want to come out and attack the game.
“We have to be prepared for a few surprises,” Murray continued. “Rassie and Jacques like to think about the game very deeply so they're going to be looking at everything we are doing. Rassie can surprise you at times so we've got to be ready for anything.”
Erasmus does indeed have the capacity to surprise … His one-hour video assassination of the match officials from the first Test will never be forgotten.
Murray says that Erasmus never was one to be faint of heart.
“He was a tough player for the Springboks, and he expects toughness from his players. If the physicality side of things ever lacked or somebody shied away from it they would be told,” Murray recalls.
“There was definitely a time and a place for that toughness at Munster and then Jacques was the good cop. They kind of work in tandem. If Rassie had a go at anyone in the Munster changing room, Jacques would have a quiet word with them and tell them what Rassie actually meant and that it was coming from a good place.”