Sunday 21 January 2018

Boost for Ireland as Ryan returns to action

Donnacha Ryan (Photo: Sportsfile)
Donnacha Ryan (Photo: Sportsfile)

Donnacha Ryan played for an hour as a Munster 'A'/Development side beat Ireland U-20s 26-24 at Thomond Park yesterday.

The Ireland second-row is in a race to be fit in time for next month's tour of South Africa - he has been sidelined for the last five weeks after suffering two concussions in quick succession.

Ireland U-20 out-half Bill Johnston also made a welcome return to action ahead of next month's Junior World Cup.

Johnston, who has missed the majority of his season after dislocating a shoulder, got 65 minutes under his belt and his return will be a major boost for coach Nigel Carolan, who will name his World Cup squad on Monday.

Meanwhile, South Africa assistant coach Johann van Graan is understood to be close to joining Bath, increasing speculation that Heyneke Meyer will succeed Mike Ford at The Recreation Ground.

Forwards specialist Van Graan is in line to replace Neal Hatley, who is now England's scrummaging coach.

Highly-rated Van Graan coached the Springboks' forwards under Meyer during the World Cup, where South Africa finished third.

Van Graan was the only member of Meyer's staff to stay on with the Springboks under new boss Allister Coetzee, but in a different role. Former Scotland prop Matt Proudfoot has been drafted in to coach the pack, with Van Graan tasked with marshalling the attack and lineout.

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