Greencore Academy Update
29th August 2016 By Munster Rugby
In the first update of the new season, Elite Player Development Manager Peter Malone discusses the selection process behind academy recruitment, Paul O’Connell’s new advisory role, his World Rugby U20 Championship experience, injury updates and more.
The selection process for new academy recruits each season…
“The selection process for the academy is based on a number of factors. Firstly we look at the players we have in our system and the players we need in our succession plan. The decisions are all succession plan based. For example, if we bring in back rows it’s because we see a need for back rows in the coming seasons.
“From 12 months out we pick a sub-academy and review our succession plan, looking at all players in our system, in the sub-academy, schools and clubs. Both through our own nomination process in Munster and in consultation with the IRFU we sign off on the players who are coming into the academy – the players who we believe will fit in and become professional players in two to three years’ time.” Click here to view our new academy recruits.
The induction process for new academy players…
“At the beginning the focus is on off-field education – how to plan your life and manage your time. That’s the big challenge for lots of players, particularly those coming straight from school. They move from a regulated timetabled environment to one where the onus is on them to manage their time. Last week for example, Paul O’Connell would have led a workshop with the lads around planning, organising and goal setting. We couple modules like these with other elements such as nutrition, mental skills and, goes without saying, rugby and S&C.”
Paul O’Connell joining the academy in an advisory role…
“To have someone that performed at the highest level for so long is a wonderful resource and we are very fortunate to have him on board. He is with us two or three days a week and is leading our Player Mentoring Education Programme, driving what players need to know around performance lifestyle. Paul is the living embodiment of a guy who planned his life, set targets and achieved them, and his advice is second to none for our lads.
“Given his expertise, Paul is also advising in areas such as the lineout, rucking, mauling and the breakdown.”
Senior involvement in both preseason training and the Kearys Renault Series games…
“It’s great for players, sometimes you come in and an opportunity presents itself, either from us seeing the potential for a player to train in an area or there being a need for a player in a certain position.
“And it’s not just at training, a lot of players got game time in the preseason clashes with many excelling and I’m delighted to see some of our older academy players, Year 2/3 guys like Stephen Fitzgerald and Dan Goggin, really standing up and showing that they’re not far off the step up to senior level.
“You also have the likes of Calvin Nash, Gavin Coombes and Conor Fitzgerald who only got their Leaving Cert results just days before their senior debuts. On the morning of the results there was no time to party because they were on the pitch at 10am, but that's the mark of the lads, there was no issue, they are training to be professional rugby players and did really well in Wednesday’s session.”
Four academy players at the World Rugby U20 Championship; Bill Johnston, Sean O'Connor, Vincent O'Brien and Shane Daly…
“It was a super experience for all involved and to create history by beating New Zealand will really stand to our guys. The key thing against New Zealand was, they really believed they were going to beat them. There was no mental battle to overcome and they were ready to go for it.
“Getting to the final was a great achievement and while a better performance on the last outing would have been nicer, it doesn’t taint what was overall an excellent experience for the players. They gained a lot out of it and, as coaches (Peter there as Ireland Assistant Coach), we really enjoyed working with that group also.”
Transformation of ‘U20’ Interpro Series into ‘U20 & Development’ Series….
“This new competition will still consist mainly of U20 players but there will be an opportunity for academy guys to get game time and, in doing so, raise the standard of the original U20 competition. Rather than filling in the squad with guys who are not at the required level, we are now getting even more quality in those Interpros and we are looking forward to the opportunities that these games, and the upcoming British and Irish Cup, will present.
5 academy graduates commencing senior contracts this summer – Rory Scannell, John Madigan, Sean McCarthy, Alex Wootton and David Johnston…
“It’s credit to these guys because they worked very hard to get there and now it’s up to them with the support of the senior coaches to really make an impact. We never send guys up for the sake of it, they are there to challenge at that next level and so far from what we have seen they are doing just that. Sean McCarthy is unlucky with injury at the moment but you had others like John Madigan who made a super impact against Zebre.”
“Bill Johnston continues to rehabilitate the shoulder injury he picked up at the World Rugby U20 Championship. We have no exact return-to-play date as of yet and will be conservative in bringing him back, possibly November, but it may be longer.
“Ben Kilkenny is currently rehabbing a neck injury and another with no specified return date as of yet.
“Ned Hodson is well on the way to recovery following a knee injury sustained in the Bateman Cup final and should be ready for rugby in the next two to three weeks.
“Greg O’Shea picked up a shoulder injury in action with Ireland 7s over the summer but we expect him back in the next three to four weeks.
“Finally, JP Phelan is currently out with a calf strain and we expect him to be sidelined for another month.”