Sunday 18 August 2019

'He has acquitted himself really well' - Andy Farrell happy to take immediate advantage of Jean Kleyn's eligibility

Jean Kleyn is aiming to force his way into contention for the World Cup. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Jean Kleyn is aiming to force his way into contention for the World Cup. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cian TR

In a funny twist of fate, on the same day Jean Kleyn officially qualified to play for Ireland, he has been named in his first Ireland team.

As soon as Kleyn arrived in Limerick from South Africa in August 2016, Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff have been tracking the powerful lock's progress with the hope and expectation that by the time the World Cup rolled around, he would be ready to provide a different kind of option.

It appears as though Kleyn was preferred to his compatriot Quinn Roux, who missed out on selection entirely and when Ultan Dillane was released from the squad earlier this week, it paved the way for the Munster player to earn his chance to impress early on.

He is, of course, very much playing catch-up on his rivals, but the word from camp is that he has fitted in well as he looks to get up to speed with the rigorous demands of international rugby.

Kleyn is exactly the kind of tighthead scrummaging lock that Schmidt likes and if he seizes his opportunity against Italy on Saturday, it will go some way to convincing the coaches that he could do a job in Japan.

“He has been great,” incoming head coach and boss for this week, Andy Farrell, said.

“Obviously when a new guy comes into a group, you are trying to work out how he copes with the dynamics.

“His character is one that everyone took to straight away. He has very quickly got to be himself and he has acquitted himself really well.

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“Hopefully we are able to see his point of difference. First of all, he knows that he has to fit into a strategy here and a plan, but he has to be able to play his game within that plan and bring his best to the table.”

Andrew Conway has seen first-hand the growth of Kleyn in Munster over the last three years and he was not surprised to see his team-mate earn an immediate call-up as soon as he qualified via the residency rules.

There is however, a sense that there is more to come from the 25-year old, especially in regard to being an enforcer against better opposition.

Kleyn has been a mainstay in the Munster team over recent seasons and woking under the likes of Schmidt and Farrell is bound to see that development accelerated even further.

“He seems to be enjoying it,” Conway said.

“He's getting more vocal around the place, which is always a good sign, so I'd say he is mad for a game in green.

“He is probably a different type of player compared to most in the country in that he just loves contact. That is what he lives for – hitting rucks, hitting people.

“It has been brilliant to play with him and he's defintely driven the standard up for Munster and hopefully now he does that with Ireland with the impact that he can have in collisions.

“It's great to be playing with guys who bring something different to the table.”

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