Van Graan keen to promote club stars
Munster coach Johann van Graan says he is keeping his eyes peeled for some talented players to come through the club game and stake a claim for higher honours.
Since he took charge of Munster in December, Van Graan has been viewing footage of Ulster Bank League games and admits he has been impressed with the standard of rugby on show.
Currently, Munster academy and senior players operate with their clubs on an ad hoc basis in an effort to keep sharp, and while watching their progress Van Graan has spotted a few potential gems.
"I'm watching club rugby and I have seen some very good performances by certain players and if guys from club rugby stand out then I would like to have a look at them," said Van Graan.
"I have been pretty busy with the things I need to manage at this stage, but I would love to actually go down and watch club games. I just haven't been fortunate enough to do it, but it is a massive part of rugby.
"The only way players will get better is if they play games, make mistakes or do things well and do it repeatedly. No player just walks into professional rugby and just performs. Some guys do it in their first year and then most likely had a dip in their second year, so rugby is an ever-evolving thing."
And according to the Munster coach, he sees the grassroots game as a key component in the potential growth of the game here. With Munster clubs to the fore in the club game, he sees it as a positive for the province.
"I think it is very competitive and I think people still want to play club and it seems people still want to support club rugby, so I think that is the bloodline of rugby.
"If there is no club rugby, no schools rugby, then at professional level where are you going to get players, where are you going to get supporters?"