Wednesday 21 February 2018

Penney backs 'terrific' Coughlan for Ireland

Conor George

Conor George

MUNSTER coach Rob Penney has backed James Coughlan to win international recognition in the New Year.

It remains a mystery how Coughlan has not yet been rewarded with full Test recognition, despite being arguably Ireland's best No 8 over the last two seasons.

Coughlan has represented Ireland at Sevens level and played against the Barbarians during the summer.

He was immense for Munster at the weekend and the fact that he was playing only his second game since returning from a very serious groin injury made his magnificent performance all the more laudable, something Penney was quick to highlight.

"There has been talk about him getting an Irish opportunity at some point. Jeepers, he would wear the green jersey very, very well," said Penney.

"I know there are some great loosies (back-row forwards) floating around Ireland at the moment, but James, we know what his strengths are and he plays to them so well.

"Coming off the back of seven weeks off, having 70 minutes last week and having to do that out there today, I think he made one error and was just terrific for us. He'll get better."

There was a distinct feeling from the Saracens dressing-room that they are not overly concerned ahead of the return fixture in Vicarage Road on Sunday.

"Look I hope they are not too concerned. We'll keep beavering away and doing what we are doing and, hopefully, we can slip in under the radar," said Penney.

"Hopefully, they will review positively about their experience here.

"Again we can maybe ambush them a little bit, who knows?"

Penney acknowledged that Munster's discipline was suspect at times on Saturday.

They conceded 18 penalties, although he clearly believes that some of those conceded in the scrums were overly harsh on his side.


"You'd have to say that I think we got some things wrong. I think our passion and our fervour and desire to do the right thing probably just took us into the danger zone a couple of times and I think we got rightfully sanctioned for those," he said.

"BJ (Botha) was frustrated at times because the tighthead was deemed to be at fault and if we have got something that we have to get right, then we'll be working on that area to make sure that we do.

"It is a very difficult area of the game to play in, but I thought there were some positive parts to our game in that area that weren't rewarded.

"We'll see how we go in the review process and will communicate with the officials in the next day or so," he added.

Irish Independent

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