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Academy Update | April 2021

1st April 2021 By The Editor

Academy Update - Alex Kendellen made his senior debut last month having joined the Academy last summer.

Alex Kendellen made his senior debut last month having joined the Academy last summer. Inpho

Munster Rugby can confirm that Cian Hurley and Conor Phillips have been contracted to the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

20-year-old Clonakilty native Hurley started in the second row on his senior debut against Benetton last month and is a product of Clonakilty RFC and CBC, playing his club rugby with Garryowen.

21-year-old Limerick winger Phillips is a product of Crescent College Comprehensive, lined out for the Ireland U20s in 2019 and plays his club rugby with Young Munster.

The province can also confirm that Academy hooker Eoghan Clarke has completed his time with the province and joined English Championship club Jersey Reds.

On the injury front, Eoin O’Connor (knee), John Hodnett (achilles), James French (hamstring) and Jonathan Wren (hamstring) are continuing to rehab from long-term injuries.

Josh Wycherley has also been sidelined with a short-term neck injury and is progressing well.

To date, nine members of the current Academy have been rewarded with senior contracts ahead of next season.

We spoke to Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach Danielle Cunningham for our latest Academy Update. Danielle, who has been working for Munster Rugby since 2015, runs the rule over a very beneficial period for the province’s young players.

Current Academy group…

“I was working with the National Talent Squad (NTS) previously so I know a lot of the current Academy players since they came into the programme at about 16 years of age.

“They are a very hard-working bunch and you couldn’t fault them for effort. The work ethic they have is incredible and they are a very honest bunch as well.

“We set them a task or a target and they will always reach it because they are so competitive. In terms of their extras, it’s a case of them chasing me rather than me chasing them.

“They have set a very high standard.”

Cian Hurley and Alex Kendellen making their Munster debuts in March…

“It’s unbelievable because the two of those guys started the season training with the Academy separately at Thomond Park [due to Covid restrictions] and doing a lot of remote training.

“To see the mental attitude, the work ethic and everything they have done pay off is phenomenal and so well deserved.”

Nine players confirmed for the senior squad next season to date… 

“It’s brilliant, that’s what it’s all about.

“We try to empower them to be the best they can be on the pitch and it’s great to see them do well. I can’t wait to see how they progress.”

Game-time with Munster A…

“With no club rugby, it has been a challenge for guys. With fewer games, it gives you more time to work on the physical development of the players and just push them even harder but the guys want to play.

“It keeps them motivated, it keeps buy-in to the programme so having those Munster A fixtures has been very important to the players.

“It gives them the chance to put their hands up for senior caps as well of course. With that ‘A’ group, there has been great energy between the senior and the Academy players, that has been a real bonus.”

Exam time…

“Players have to balance the work from their college courses along with the rugby programme throughout the year, especially around exam times.

“We get their college schedule at the start of the year and just highlight when the exams are. We get their exam schedule closer to the time and just highlight that within their Academy schedule.

“They might have to miss a training session for an exam. If there was a game on we would communicate with the college and try to make the whole process as stress-free as possible for the players.”

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