Wednesday 24 January 2018

Scannell buzzing after Six Nations debut

Scannell featured in four of Ireland’s five games. Photo: Sportsfile
Scannell featured in four of Ireland’s five games. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There is nothing like an away trip to play basement side Zebre (2.00pm) to bring you back down from the Six Nations high but that's exactly what Niall Scannell must do as Munster look to keep pace at the top of the Pro12 table.

Scannell featured in four of Ireland's five games including once from the start when he was called upon at the final hour to make his international debut in Rome in place of the unwell Rory Best.

The 24-year-old looked at home on the international stage and barring injury, he will continue his development during Ireland's summer tour.

"It was a great experience - to get your first cap from the start," Scannell reflected. "Just to be thrown in at the last minute and not be worrying about it all week was probably a bonus too."

Those memories must now be stored away as Munster get one last hit-out before next weekend's Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse.

It's difficult to know if playing such sub-standard opposition will be beneficial before a bruising French pack arrive in Limerick but Rassie Erasmus' main aim today will be to leave Parma with a victory and a clean bill of health.

The strength of the team that Erasmus has picked should certainly lead to Munster picking up the bonus point as well which in an ideal world will be wrapped up early on.

Fresh from his stellar man-of-the-match display against England, Peter O'Mahony returns to skipper the side while Erasmus has gone with his first choice front-row with Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan packing down either side of Scannell.

There is far too much quality in this Munster side to be really troubled by Zebre but getting out of there unscathed will be almost as important as the win.

Verdict: Munster

Zebre - D Berryman; K van Zyl, T Boni, T Castello, L Greeff; S Bordoli, M Violi; B Positiglioni, O Fabiani, B Le Roux; G Koegelenberg, V Bernabo (capt); M Mbanda, J Meyer, D Minnie. Reps: S Tobias, A De Marchi, G Roan, J Furno, F Ruzza, C Engelbrecht, M Pratichetti, G Palazzani.
Munster - A Conway; D Sweetnam, J Taute, R Scannell, R O'Mahony; T Bleyendaal, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, N Scannell, J Ryan; D O'Callaghan, B Holland; P O'Mahony (capt), T O'Donnell, J O'Donoghue. Reps: R Marshall, J Cronin, S Archer, D O'Shea, C Oliver, A Lloyd, D Johnston, D Goggin.
Referee: S Gallagher (IRFU)

Irish Independent

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