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Munster head coach Graham Rowntree hints at big changes for the Irish giants

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Saturday Mar 2, 2024

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree made some comments spoke recently to the Irish Examiner about changes coming to his squad “sooner rather than later”.

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Already confirmed to be departing the province at the end of the season are marquee players Joey Carbery (Bordeaux) and RG Snyman (Leinster) whilst veteran duo Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray are yet to sign new deals with the URC Champions.

Replacing double World Cup winner Snyman will prove challenging but Munster do have several home grown options coming through the system with the likes of Edwin Edogbo and Thomas Ahern leading the charge alongside Springbok Jean Kleyn.

Carbery on the other hand has been usurped by Ireland’s current first choice flyhalf Jack Crowley and as such Munster will be on the lookout for an experienced option to compete with Crowley and back-up Tony Butler. Headling the options so far are former Munster player Jake Flannery and his Ulster teammate Billy Burns.

Completing the list, O’Mahony and Murray (both 34) are reportedly set to sign hybrid deals with Munster and the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union). However, how long these deals will be remains to be seen with Murray now second choice behind Craig Casey with young Ethan Coughlan quickly emerging as an exciting talent. In the case of O’Mahony, the Irish captain remains an influential figure in the squad but will face stiff competition from the talented trio of Ruadhán Quinn, Brian Gleeson and Ahern.

Speaking about the shape of his squad heading into next season, Rowntree said, “I think we’re approaching a crossroads as a club where we have to move on with certain personnel.

“We’ll see but it’s going to happen sooner than later. It has to be right for the club. My main role is to deal with what’s right for the club in that regard, when to bring guys through, when to move guys on. There we go, watch this space.”

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Referencing players who are already signed for next season, recently capped tigthead prop Oli Jager arrived at the province ahead of schedule which has been a major boost for Munster’s ambitions this season.

“He’s fitted in seamlessly. I think he’ll be big part of this club for a long time. What did Faz describe him as? A man’s man with a moustache who gets on with things.

“He came to watch the Crusaders game with a skinhead and his big moustache and he looked like Charles Bronson, not the actor!

“He’s fitted in well with his professionalism, his humility and he’s a big man as well. He moves well for a big man.

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“He took a while to get used to our training demands and our training load but he was doing things differently, that I’ve seen – the shape he gets into in the scrum and the ability to move well around the ruck.

“A really impressive character and let’s not forget he’s an Irishman. It’s not like we’re shipping in a South African or a New Zealander.”

Joining Jager at the province next season, highly touted Connacht winger Diarmuid Kilgallen is already confirmed as a signing and will add an extra dimension to an already exciting back three group.

The 6’4” and 95kg winger has been tipped to go on to become an Irish international and at just 23-years-old could become a long term option in the back field for Munster.

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