Sunday 21 April 2019

Van Graan prepared to fast-track young guns

Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster head coach Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile

Munster coach Johann van Graan says he would happily fast-track some of his academy stars into first-team action this season after they impressed in Ireland's U-20s Six Nations Grand Slam success.

Twelve Munster academy players were part of the Ireland squad that became just the second Grand Slam winners at that grade for the nation, and their progress has impressed Van Graan.

Scrum-half Craig Casey, full-back Jake Flannery and prop Josh Wycherley - brother of Fineen - were stand-out performers, while out-half Ben Healy also excelled in the win over France.

While the coach won't immediately propel his youngsters into action, he thinks they are ready whenever their chance materialises.

"A lot of credit has to go to the Irish U-20s and the work they've done not only this season but last season.

"The work that's gone in behind the scenes for a number of years from Ultan O'Callaghan and Peter Malone, the development of those guys into the academy. I think the future's so bright," said Van Graan.

"I think Josh Wycherley had an excellent campaign and Craig Casey, not only his energy but his decision-making was excellent.

"And the first day I saw Jonathan Wren train, I called him across and said, 'listen, you've got something very special'.

"I think Jake Flannery has been excellent and I could name every single guy that's played in the whole tournament, I'm really excited about them."

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