Thursday 22 August 2019

'Committed' Kleyn feeling at home in Munster

Kleyn: "The Irish people are so friendly, so welcoming. It’s a sincere welcome as well." Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

We have reached the point in the season where the World Cup is looming large and every player in contention of making the plane to Japan will inevitably be asked about it.

Most will make out that it is the last thing on their mind, and while that may be the case for some of the more experienced players, it is difficult not to imagine it being at the forefront of everyone's minds.

For someone like Jean Kleyn the situation is slightly different in that he has not yet been in and around the Ireland squad, but given that he will be qualified to play for his adopted country in September, the Munster lock will likely be at least considered by Joe Schmidt.

Missing the majority of the warm-up games in August won't help his cause, though, and the South African-born 25-year old would have to benefit from injuries in what is a well-stocked engine room.

Nevertheless, Kleyn's performances for Munster this season merit the conversation at least and while some will still moan about World Rugby's residency rules, the former Stormers enforcer is playing by them.

When pressed on if he had any contact from Schmidt or anyone within the IRFU, Kleyn (above) was reluctant to say, but the fact that he recently signed a new three-year deal told you everything you need to know about his international intentions.

He may not end up wearing the green jersey in Japan, but undoubtedly that day will eventually come.

"It's something I was very open about," Kleyn reflects on his move to Munster three years ago.

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"I was very open-minded coming towards it and you have to be if you're basically packing up your life and leaving at the age of 23, which I did.

"I was very committed to the move. I approached it in the manner of 'I'm coming here to stay here' not 'I'm coming here to see how it goes and then maybe . . .'

"I think that was part of what has made it so easy for me, that and the Irish people are so friendly, so welcoming. It's a sincere welcome as well.

"There's no pretence about it, it's really good."

It helps that Kleyn is one of the first names on the Munster team-sheet and the second-row partnership that he has struck up with Tadhg Beirne has been one of the biggest positives of the club's season.

While Kleyn may not posses the poaching or lineout ability of Beirne, his huge work-rate and power around the pitch allows his team-mate to get after the ball and do what he does best.

"We are very different and we do complement each other very well," Kleyn says of the dynamic with Beirne.

"He gets to do a lot of the work that I don't do. You wouldn't see me poaching many balls. And then I try to get to do the work that he doesn't. As a combination we are fairly good.

"We are all trusting each other to do our jobs. You are very focused on if you do your job.

"Pete (O'Mahony) always says: 'Make the guy next to you look good. Do your job and then someone else will get to shine and at the end of the day we will win.'

"If he (Beirne) jumps he expects me to get there with the lift.

"Any combination of things you can talk about. But it is more of team dynamic."

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