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Greencore Academy Update

24th September 2017 By The Editor

Liam O’Connor takes to the field for the senior side.

Liam O’Connor takes to the field for the senior side. INPHO/James Crombie

From graduates to inducting new recruits, and Sevens involvement to the upcoming British and Irish Cup, Elite Player Development Manager, Peter Malone, discusses the latest happenings in our first Greencore Academy Update of the new season.

Five academy graduates promoted to the senior squad – Stephen Fitzgerald, Dan Goggin, Bill Johnston, Conor Oliver and Brian Scott…

“It’s very positive for the lads and for the academy also.  As coaches we only send guys through that we believe will add to the senior set up and hopefully contribute to Munster winning trophies in the coming seasons.  I’m confident that all these guys will prove themselves as really good squad members going forward.”

Oliver and Johnston progress after just two years of the academy programme….

“We always say to players that the academy is a development stage for them to prove that they have the ability to progress, showing it to us firstly and then to the senior coaches.

“Conor played a lot of PRO12 rugby last year and showed that he can handle that environment and the senior sessions.  Keeping him in the academy would not be the best for him or Munster Rugby.

“Bill wouldn’t have had the same time because of injury but we always felt he had that potential and has shown in previous seasons an ability to play senior rugby.

“It’s not a case just doing three years, it’s a case developing players until they are ready to be excellent professionals.  We felt both those guys were ready to step up, as did Rassie and all the professional coaches.”

World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia…

“For any competition like that, it’s what you take from it is the important thing.  Obviously you want to be successful and we weren’t which was very disappointing, and while we had a lot of injuries, we were very unhappy with the first two performances against Italy and Scotland.

“I think in those situations where you are on a tour and things aren’t going well, it does build a bit of character and I think our guys stepped up well when they needed to against Samoa and Georgia. Guys like Jack Stafford, Fineen Wycherley, Calvin Nash and more, when we were under the pump, they produced big performances when we needed them.

“It’s not an easy experience, you’re in a country far away without your home comforts.  Lads grow and learn from that and the important thing now is that they put those learnings into practice – about how hard you have to work, how important the small details are in preparation and how when you get a chance you need to be primed to take it.

Academy preseason programme…

“Basically we offered two programmes, one where a lot of our year-2 and year-3 guys trained with the seniors and another where the year-1 and sub-academy lads followed their own programme.

“We let the new recruits know from the very outset what’s required and the necessary sacrifices.  A lot of that is about making hard decisions for the first time.  For example, a lot of them couldn’t go to music festivals or go out the night of their Leaving Cert results because we were training the next day.  But there was no complaints from the lads, they trained really hard on the pitch and in the gym across the summer and have laid an excellent foundation for the season ahead.”

Guinness PRO14 representation for Liam O’Connor, Sean O’Connor and Fineen Wycherley…

“We are delighted for the lads, all were ready to take the opportunities when they came their way – Sean working particularly hard on his physical development and Liam on his scrummaging.

“Off the bench, Fineen is another who continues to impress the senior coaches, like he did last season, and here’s hoping further chances will come the way of the three lads and more academy players across the season.”

Shane Daly named in the 2017/18 Ireland Men’s 7s squad…

“We have always been open to our players taking part in Sevens to ultimately develop their 15’s game.  In the past we sent up guys like Alex Wootton and Dan Goggin and it aided their development.

“We think it will be the same for Shane who excelled with the Ireland U20s in 2016 and all last season with Cork Constitution, even if injury did hamper his involvement with Munster A.

“This presents another opportunity for him to go and challenge himself in high profile competitions, undergo the stresses and strains of travel and a lot of what a professional players would have to deal with.

“Anyone in our academy, their long term goal is to play 15s rugby for Munster and Ireland and we would see no different for Shane, and while his focus will be 7s for the coming season, it’s for the long term goal of him becoming a better professional player for Munster.”

British & Irish Cup title defence…

“It was wonderful to win it, but as we’ll say to the lads this season, that doesn’t mean anything now, it’s a brand new season, we’re starting from scratch, and as is the nature of the competition we could have a completely different squad for the opening game against Ospreys Select.

“The challenge for whoever takes to the field is to step up and show that they are capable of surviving at that level.  I mentioned earlier the players who progressed to the senior squad after just two years in the academy – Bill Johnston and Conor Oliver both demonstrated that they were very comfortable playing against big and physical Championship teams.  I always say about this competition, you have to match the power and physicality of the Championship sides before you can show your skills and all our academy graduates – Bill, Conor, Brian Scott, Dan Goggin and Stephen Fitzgerald – demonstrated that across last season’s campaign.

“We’ll prepare well and looking at our pool it will make for some interesting games, certainly looking at Nottingham and the way Ian Costello (former Munster Assistant Coach) coaches, they’ll play a bit more rugby than we would normally expect from the Championship teams and that will be an excellent test for us.”

Injury Update

“Sean O’Connor picked up a neck injury in the seniors’ loss to Glasgow in the PRO14 and continues to be assessed by the medical team.

“Craig Casey is currently managing a knee cartilage issue and is looking at six to eight weeks before he returns to action.

“John Foley continues to rehab post-op for a shoulder injury and is looking at another three to four weeks on the sidelines.

“Calvin Nash is another looking at three to four weeks after a sternum injury.

“Jack O’Sullivan picked up a shoulder injury in training that is likely to keep him out for another six to eight weeks.

“Alan Tynan has progressed to running and agility after an injury to the base of his foot but will miss the next three to four weeks.

“A knee niggle saw Jack Power miss the past weekend’s club action, but we’re confident that he’ll return to action in the next couple of weeks.”

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