Sunday 23 September 2018

Youngsters ready to get their shot

Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile
Johann van Graan. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

With injury problems rife among the squad there will be chances for Munster's youngsters to shine before the end of the season, and according to coach Johann van Graan, he is excited to see how they cope, starting against Scarlets tomorrow.

With Conor Murray on a week's rest and Duncan Williams ruled out for the rest of the season, James Hart and Jack Stafford will have to keep the team ticking this weekend.

Stafford, who only left secondary school two years ago, has only briefly featured for the senior team but Van Graan expects his generation will have to play their part.

"We just have to bank on the young guys to get us through the next games and we are going to have quite a few 20-, 21-, 22-year-olds on the field," said Van Graan.

"When I came to Munster in November there was a lot of injuries over November and December and it stabilised through January which we got a few good results, qualifying for a home quarter-final in Europe.

"I thought we did well after Christmas and New Year with the win against Connacht. It put us into a good position. The win against Zebre and then the last two weeks we have just had a massive amount of injuries."

Ireland's Grand Slam success was build with a blend of experienced players and some very young starts of the future getting their taste of international rugby. But Van Graan says he is unable to follow Schmidt's exact blueprint.

"He has got a lot of talent to pick in Ireland and they have done exceptionally well.

"One constant for Ireland is they have been consistent in their main decision-makers, their hooker, their five lock, their 8, 9, 10 and 15 have been pretty consistent.

"We have had to change our 9, 10 15, 8, 2 and 5 around quite a lot, but like I said not an excuse, we will start again on zero."

Irish Independent

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