Monday 19 November 2018

Scannell: Fans don't know how good Munster new boy Haley is

22 April 2018; Rory Scannell of Munster attempts a drop goal during the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final match between Racing 92 and Munster Rugby at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
22 April 2018; Rory Scannell of Munster attempts a drop goal during the European Rugby Champions Cup semi-final match between Racing 92 and Munster Rugby at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joey Carbery and Tadhg Beirne have hogged much of the Munster attention over the course of pre-season, but with the new Ireland internationals still on ice the focus turns to the lower profile arrivals at Irish Independent Park tonight (7.30).

Arno Botha is also absent as the Reds host his former club London Irish, but Neil Cronin and Mike Haley are on the bench and could take the field for the first time tonight.

Locals know plenty about scrum-half Cronin who has been promoted from Garryowen, but Haley is an intriguing addition who has come in under the radar but could make a big impact.

He has big boots to fill in Simon Zebo, but with 73 appearances for Sale Sharks the Irish-qualified full-back is impressing his new team-mates in training.

"He's very exciting, just watching him in training. He has experience too, more than 100 games for Sale, he's only young," centre Rory Scannell said.

"With Zeebs leaving, there was a lot of talk about that, I don't think people really know how good Mike is. I'm sure over the next few weeks they'll see how exciting he is to watch and to play with.

"He's a great fella, he knows Sammy Arnold and Ciarán Parker from back home. He'd have played with them underage. He seems to be going well in training, it's all looking good."

disappointed Scannell was disappointed to miss out on selection for the summer tour of Australia, but the upside is he can hit the ground running this season.

"The (Ireland) lads are only back two, three weeks; I've had seven under the belt. I'm feeling fit and I'll get a bit of game-time against London Irish," he said. "Towards the end of pre-season you just want to play games after the weights and running.

"I'd a chat with Joe before the summer tour, I was obviously disappointed to miss out on that. There was a few things to work on, Bundee (Aki), Robbie (Henshaw) and Garry (Ringrose) are big, physical centres... I like the physical side of things as well, but I also add something different having played a bit at No 10 before. So, if I can match their physicality and bring that little extra on a consistent basis then hopefully I can push my way in."

Tommy O'Donnell will lead the side in Cork, with JJ Hanrahan handed the out-half jersey ahead of Ian Keatley.

Meanwhile, last year's Ireland U-20 captain Caelan Doris has been included in the Leinster starting team for their second pre-season fixture against Newcastle Falcons at Energia Park (7.0). Ciarán Frawley is at out-half, with Scott Fardy captaining.

Teams in Factfile, P54

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