Academy Update | March 2022
31st March 2022 By The Editor
We spoke to Elite Player Development Officer Andi Kyriacou for the latest update on our young Greencore Munster Rugby Academy players.
As always, it was a busy month for the Academy with six young players in South Africa for the two-game URC tour.
On the international front, Tony Butler, Patrick Campbell and Ethan Coughlan helped the Ireland U20s to a Grand Slam title.
See the latest news from Andi below.
Returning Grand Slam winners…
“They’ve handled themselves incredibly well up there and we’re immensely proud of them. Not just us as Academy staff but certainly the tie-in with the seniors as well. There were lots of ‘congratulations’ from everyone and it just shows the good relationships between the senior and Academy programmes.
“They got back into the HPC on Monday after a little bit of time off to refresh. It was great to see them back in, we missed them! They’re great kids and great characters.
“Going through a campaign like that is pretty tough on the body and mentally as well, staying engaged and on point for that period of time.
“When you come back from anything like that with success, you want to keep that momentum going. There will be an adjustment period where they’ll have to come back in and find their feet within the senior environment again and almost reset their mind in terms of ‘we’re still developing as players, let’s get back to our mid- and long-term goals’ off the back of that immediate success they have just had with Ireland.
“They are incredibly positive about the work they have coming up, tying back in with their AIL clubs and being back on the ground in the HPC.”
Alex Kendellen starting the last three games in a row at no.8…
“I remember watching him in the 6 Nations last summer and he was just incredibly impressive. He’s a very diligent professional, very goal-driven. Our Head of S&C in the Academy, Danielle Cunningham, is tuned into what makes him tick from a physical development point of view and he’s worked really hard at that.
“It’s showing and it’s matching his rugby-playing capabilities now and it’s allowing him to play and take his game on to another level. He’s constantly looking to get better, he knows he’s nowhere near the finished article but how exciting is that?
“He’s doing a lot of work with Graham [Rowntree], he’s tying in with Cossie and JP on the defensive side of things. He’s putting his hand up as a ball-carrier at senior level which is something that is great to see. He’s a fantastic kid and we’re all excited to see where he can go with it and he fully deserves his senior contract.”
Academy players Scott Buckley, Mark Donnelly, Cian Hurley, Eoin O’Connor, Alex Kendellen & Paddy Patterson travelling to South Africa for the two-game tour…
“Anything where you’re fully-immersed in the game with no outside distractions and you’re with the team non-stop, it allows you to work on your craft a bit more because it’s all-consuming.
“They had a great time and we’ve had really good reports from the senior coaches on how well they’ve conducted themselves both on and off the field.
“You can see the visible improvement in training and games as well since they’ve been back so they have definitely benefitted from it.”
Business end of the AIL season…
“Our lads have played well with their clubs and they love playing for their clubs, it’s clear to see. We can’t wait to see how they go in the coming weeks. It’s going to be an exciting finish to the season for our clubs in the AIL.
“Guys who were in South Africa were exposed to the black hole that is altitude and the temperature and the stress of playing in that. Eoin O’Connor, for instance, he came back from that and had a great game for Young Munster last week.
“They’re getting better every week. That exposure and that ability to play every week is something that benefits them as individuals but also playing with their mates in a team environment with guys they train with week in week out.
“That off-field development as well, building relationships with people, the challenges of a season, playing throughout the year and getting injuries, recovering from injuries, those are all massive experiences for the young lads.”
“Paddy Kelly (hamstring) and Edwin Edogbo (achilles) are both doing unbelievably well.
“They are slowly moving from the rehabilitation side of things to reconditioning but there’s no rush. We’re just going to make sure they’re right, they are young men with a lot of rugby in front of them.
“They have stayed engaged with the rugby side of things as well and they do a lot of static skill work, and they’re now moving towards doing a lot of those rugby movements again.
“Jonathan Wren is being managed back in and he’s available again now. In terms of being a pro, he’s been nothing short of excellent. He’s incredibly dynamic and incredibly explosive, he’s a very talented kid and hopefully he can get back playing consistently soon.”