Thursday 8 December 2016

Scannell ready to step up to mark

Published 03/09/2016 | 02:30

Rory Scannell has graduated to a senior contract and given Munster's lack of experienced midfield options. Photo: Sportsfile
Rory Scannell has graduated to a senior contract and given Munster's lack of experienced midfield options. Photo: Sportsfile

Life under Rassie Erasmus begins on the road for Munster against a rejuvenated Scarlets side for whom expectations are growing in Wales.

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This afternoon will be the first of many challenges that Erasmus faces but he goes into it with a noticeable degree of confidence off the back of what was by all means a tough pre-season.

The South African's game-plan will undoubtedly take time to be properly implemented while he also faces an entirely new challenge in picking apart the opposition in what is his first time coaching in this part of the world. In that sense, Anthony Foley's voice will be crucial and Erasmus has admitted that.

Last season's shortcoming may still stick in the craw but Erasmus is understandably not keen to dwell on the past but rather approach this campaign with a fresh impetus.

It's been five years since Munster last won in the League in Parc y Scarlets and their recruitment has been shrewd. Jonathan Davies, Rhys Patchell and Johnny McNicholl will add firepower to a backline that has the potential to cause problems this season.

Munster were rocked by Johnny Holland's retirement earlier this week and Erasmus is keen for Tyler Bleyendaal to stake his claim. Irish internationals James Cronin, Tommy O'Donnell and Simon Zebo will provide plenty of experience while 22-year old Academy centre Dan Goggin makes his debut.

The former St Munchin's College student will line up outside of Rory Scannell who has his sights on further improvements this season.

Scannell has graduated to a senior contract and given Munster's lack of experienced midfield options, the Cork native has suddenly become an even more vital cog in the wheel.

"A lot of the guys stepping in there will probably be looking to me and the other lads around that have been playing regularly for bits of advice and help, so yeah, I probably do have to step up a bit," he said.

The fact that Scannell has made the number 12 jersey his own has certainly aided his development. Joe Schmidt has already been in touch and the goal this season is to force his way into the Ireland squad. "Last year I was hoping to get a game here and there when I could and try and impress. This year, when you become a more regular in the first team, you look at bigger goals. Obviously the main goal is to probably push on and play with Ireland."

Those aspirations will be put on hold for now as Munster look to hit the ground running. It may well be a baptism of fire however.

Verdict: Scarlets

Scarlets - L Williams; DTH van der Merwe, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell, G Davies; D Evans, K Owens (capt), W Kruger; J Ball, L Rawlins; S Shingler, J Barclay, J Macleod. Reps: R Elias, W Jones, P Edwards, D Bulbring, T Beirne, J Evans, D Jones, J Davies.

Munster - S Zebo; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, J Ryan; D Foley, B Holland (capt); D O'Callaghan, T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue. Reps: K O'Byrne, D Kilcoyne, B Scott, J Kleyn, D Ryan, T O'Leary, I Keatley, C Bohane.

Ref - A Linton (SRU)

Scarlets v Munster, Live, Sky Sports 1, 3.0

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