Sunday 15 December 2019

'You can't deny the class of player, class of coaches and class of their culture' - Rowntree wary of Saracens despite saga

Graham Rowntree. Photo: Matt Browne
Graham Rowntree. Photo: Matt Browne

Declan Rooney

Munster forwards' coach Graham Rowntree expects Saracens' "class" to shine through next week when the sides play the first of their back-to-back Champions Cup ties at Thomond Park.

Despite the European champions' off-field problems for breaching the Premiership's salary cap, Rowntree thinks we'll continue to see the best of Mark McCall's side next week.

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"You can't deny the class of player, the class of the coaches and the class of their culture," said Rowntree. "I've been in and out of that group when I worked with England and they used to invite me down to look at training. You can't deny the good thing that they have got going on there. I think that will shine through.

"I'm not here to comment about what's been going on with them but I know there is a class of people and class of coaches there that regardless of what's happening they will perform on the field."

Before that crunch European tie with Saracens, Munster host Edinburgh in Cork this weekend in a key Conference B PRO14 game.

The Reds look set to be without injured pair Dave Kilcoyne and Jeremy Loughman but Rowntree has no concerns over the depth of talent available at prop.

Loughman sustained an ankle injury last weekend while Kilcoyne (calf) is still "a few weeks away" and has yet to feature this season.

With the two looseheads sidelined, James Cronin, Brian Scott and Liam O'Connor are likely to battle it out for game-time in the next few weeks, while academy player Josh Wycherley could also feature.

"We've got plenty of props. That's one thing that has really impressed me, the depth and the class that we've got," said Rowntree.

"Throughout pre-season and certainly now we have got the young academy lads training with us and they are doing very well. They have brought a real attitude and energy to training. We're down a few props but that just means I can put more into the young guys, which I love."

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