MUNSTER hooker Damien Varley admits the last few weeks have been difficult, not just for the team but for him personally.
Rob Penney’s men have shipped three successive defeats in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup and during that time Varley has picked up a red card against the Ospreys and a sin-binning against Leinster.
An independent disciplinary committee decided to uphold the red card issued to Varley by the match referee in the Ospreys clash at the end of last month, but the committee believed the offence did not warrant further sanction being imposed.
However, the decision to uphold the red card still rankles with the dynamic Munster hooker.
Varley said: “I was shocked to see the red card. I thought the penalty was going the other way when the incident happened first of all.
“I was still disappointed that the red card was upheld (at the hearing). It was alleged I backlashed into the face of the player on the ground. We had enough evidence to say that didn’t occur. The red card was upheld and that is something I would question. The referee didn’t see anything. He took advice elsewhere.
“It is extremely frustrating. For me, it was particularly frustrating because the incident never happened. I found that injustice very hard to cope with for that week.
“If an incident had occurred a player would hold his hand up and say ‘yes, I have done wrong’. In my case, it didn’t happen so I found that a very tough week, particularly leading into the stage of both competitions, facing Leinster in the PRO12 and the two Heineken Cup games.
“I think calls like that really do effect careers. Selection comes into question and what not. It has been a tough few weeks. The sin-binning the following week (against Leinster) was another tough one. I know I’m biased, but I felt it was harsh.
“I was on the field two minutes when the yellow card was issued in that match. But I am looking forward to putting that behind me for the first home game in a few weeks at Thomond Park.”
The 29-year-old believes Sunday’s tie with Edinburgh is a ‘must win’ game for Munster following their defeat to Racing Metro.
“The disappointing result last weekend turns our focus to this Sunday,” Varley said.
“We have a must win game this weekend for a number of reasons, one it’s the Heineken Cup and two it’s the Heineken Cup at Thomond Park. It is always a very special place for us to play. Because we had a disappointing result there against Ulster last season at the quarter-final, we want to vindicate ourselves against that and show we are progressing as a team.
“We may be a young side, but we are still progressing and we have an excellent quality players in the squad. It is a must-win game. It is always a special time to walk into Thomond Park for a Heineken Cup game. The atmosphere is always available.
“I really hope the game is sold out by kick-off time. I think it is going to be an unbelievable day. The team are really focused on providing a win and playing good rugby people will want to see and again vindicate ourselves from bad performances we have had recently.
“When we have had bad performances, we feel we are letting the supporters down and we want to show that it is a progressing team and that there are a great quality of players on the side.”