Tuesday 17 September 2019

Malone optimistic for academy stars

Peter Malone. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Peter Malone. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Munster Rugby elite player development manager Peter Malone says he is confident that the province's recent academy graduates can kick on to the next level and become top internationals.

Malone has called on some of those that have already made the breakthrough into the first team squad to go on another step and emulate the successes of players like Keith Earls, Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray.

This week Munster revealed the make-up of years two and three of their academy, while lock Fineen Wycherley, who is this season's academy player of the year, back Calvin Nash and prop Liam O'Connor graduate to Johann van Graan's squad.

"I am optimistic," said Malone. "I look through some of the players that came out after those guys: Jack O'Donoghue, James Cronin, Niall Scannell, Darren Sweetnam, Rory Scannell, Alex Wootton, Bill Johnston and Conor Oliver.

"I would challenge those guys and believe they have the ability to be European Cup players for Munster, challenge to win European trophies for Munster and be internationals.

"I think there are players in the academy now and some who have left this year to really push on and deliver on Munster's culture of winning trophies."

Next season's year three academy players will be Gavin Coombes, Shane Daly and Sean O'Connor, while year two will be made up of Craig Casey, Liam Coombes, Keynon Knox, James McCarthy, Alex McHenry, Matt More, Jack O'Sullivan, Jack Stafford and Alan Tynan.

"I think we have a great pedigree and I think there is great pedigree coming through. For us the key is to focus on those players that we believe will be top-class international professionals and develop them to the best of our ability," Malone added.

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