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Academy Update | December 2019

12th December 2019 By The Editor

Academy and UCC prop James French looks for the offload in last weekend

Academy and UCC prop James French looks for the offload in last weekend's AIL clash against Garryowen. Inpho

In our latest Academy Update, Elite Player Development Manager Peter Malone brings us up to date with the progress of Munster’s young Academy players.

Academy players have been lining out for Munster in the Guinness PRO14 and their clubs in the AIL over the past four weeks with two big Munster A games coming up this month.

Munster face Leinster at Donnybrook on Friday, December 13 (7.30pm) in a Challenge Match and face the Ireland U20s on Sunday, December 29 at Irish Independent Park (1pm).

Read the latest from Peter Malone below.

Fixture v Leinster A…

See the Munster A team details here.

“We’re really looking forward to it, it’s a good opportunity for our guys.

“A lot of them have been heavily involved with their clubs in the AIL, they’ve played Celtic Cup and some guys played PRO14. It’s a good opportunity to get a lot of guys together and it will be a really good test.

“Obviously Leinster have great depth and a lot of quality players so it will be a nice benchmark of where we are. It will help us see what guys need to work on and improve on and hopefully we get a good performance on Friday night.”

Players grasping opportunities…

“There’s a very good group of Academy players there, their character and how they carry themselves is excellent. I think they’re pushing hard to really get opportunities at the next level and it’s important for them when they get an opportunity like Friday night to show that they are ready for the step up.

“That’s what the senior coaches will be looking at. Players like Jack O’Sullivan and Keynan Knox have pushed away in training and gotten some opportunities, it’s important when they play A rugby that they show that they’re really at the level and ready to go in the PRO14.

“For some younger guys then who are getting an opportunity, they need to show that they’re ready to step up as well.”

Juggling rugby and education commitments at this time of year…

“Seán French has an exam on Friday in Cork and we could move it but that’s not the right thing for him. The best thing to do is focus on exams in this period and then he will be available to play for his club, Cork Constitution, on Saturday so he still gets the best of both worlds.

“Training-wise we have been very light over the past two weeks because the priority at this time of year is for lads to focus on their exams, it’s a stressful enough time for them so we have to make sure they get that part of their academic development done correctly.”

Playing the Ireland U20s later this month…

“We play that fixture every year because it’s a great opportunity to test our young guys, guys who might be slightly outside the Ireland U20s squad.

“It’s a bit of game-time as well for some players, we have a look at club players who are going well in the AIL and it’s a great fixture.

“Players have often played their way into contention for the Ireland squad through the game and we’ll have a few guys on both sides for the match.

“Players like Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Harry O’Riordan are strong possibilities to get into the Irish squad [for the game] and we’ll have a few more U20s players like Cian Hurley, Mark Donnelly, Jack Delaney, Charlie O’Doherty – they may be in our squad so it will be a good trial match for the U20s and a good match for us.”

Academy out-half Ben Healy impressing on his first PRO14 start…

“Excellent for Ben. Massive credit due to him for the character he showed, he had a tough start to the game after getting a knock before the match and then having to deal with early pressure.

“The character he showed is a great sign for me and he played himself back into the game and got a few crucial clutch kicks which is what we expect of Ben, he ran the game pretty well.

“For Ben it was great to get his debut but also great signs that the character is there for him to hopefully have a very good professional career.”

Five Academy players getting PRO14 game-time already this season…

“That’s important and the players are going to keep pushing that – to get more minutes in the PRO14. It’s up to the lads to really train hard and impress Johann and give themselves that opportunity.

“There are players just underneath that window who haven’t played yet like Josh Wycherley, Thomas Ahern, Jack Daly, John Hodnett, Seán French and Jack Stafford to name a few – those guys are all pushing hard to get an opportunity.

“They’ve got to really train hard over the next three to four weeks and give Johann something to think about and that’s what all of us, as an Academy group, are pushing for.”

Injury news…

“Paddy Kelly and Eoin O’Connor are both ready to get back playing.

“There’s really positive news for Jake Flannery (shoulder) as he is going to be back into the mix for rugby in January, he’s back training with the squad.

“Jack Daly pulled up with an ankle injury when playing with Garryowen so he’s out of contention at the moment.

“Jonathan Wren has a small hamstring issue after his Ireland 7s involvement so he’s back doing a bit of rehab. He went very well with the 7s squad and was initially selected to go with the Development squad to Dubai so that was unlucky for him.”


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