Friday 23 March 2018

Malone looks to bring his 'A' game to develop next generation of stars

Declan Rooney

New Munster 'A' head coach Peter Malone is hoping to continue the good work of former coach Ian Costello and keep the conveyor belt of first-team stars coming from his side.

Malone, who also works as the elite player development manager at Munster Rugby, got his tenure under way on Wednesday with a workout against Connacht at Musgrave Park.

But after witnessing the growth and development of this generation of Munster players through the Munster 'A' team and their British and Irish Cup success, Malone is determined to keep the standards high on his watch.

"Obviously I am delighted to get this opportunity, but Ian has left fairly big shoes to fill. It is up to me now to maximise the talent we have at our disposal and keep the development of first-team players to the forefront of my mind.

"Over the last few years I think we have done that successfully, so the aim is to keep that progress constant," said Malone.

As before, the 'A' team will see quite a mix of talents, ages and skills, with first-team regulars on their way back from injury or in search of game time mucking in with the young academy lads and showing them the ropes.

Malone thinks having that age blend in the side is vital for the progression of the younger generation.

"For the academy players who get some game time in the 'A' side, it is a great chance for them to learn from the older players.

"For example, on Wednesday Billy Holland was in the team and he has a wealth of experience at this stage. He was able to help a few of the young lads out, show them how to call a line-out and what to expect playing at this level.

"For many of them it is the first time they might have played against older guys, so having that experience there is vital."

Munster have been handed a sticky draw in this year's B&I Cup after being paired with two English Championship sides, Nottingham and Plymouth Albion, and Scottish side Stirling County. Malone is expecting no easy tests.

"Any time you are put together with two Championship sides it is going to be a tough campaign. They are very physical teams and will test us severely both home and away.

"Stirling will be a tough test too, I'm sure. We don't know quite as much about them as the other two teams, but come game time we'll have our work done on them.

"But it all boils down to us getting the guys ready to take the next step in their careers. Hopefully we can bring them along like the Munster players of the last few years have, and make sure they are ready when the call comes for the Pro12 or the Heineken Cup," he said.

Irish Independent

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