'The players are raving about him, that's a good sign for an 18-year-old'

Munster have been impressed by ex-Rockwell College star Bill Johnston in pre-season.

THEY’RE EXCITED ABOUT 18-year-old Bill Johnston down in Munster.

Munster’s Bill Johnston Johnston has impressed in pre-season.

The former Rockwell College out-half has featured in the southern province’s two pre-season games over the last two weekends, racking up 50 minutes as a substitute for Tyler Bleyendaal against Grenoble, then replacing his older brother David at fullback with 30 minutes of Friday night’s defeat to Connacht remaining.

Johnston only did his Leaving Cert in June, earning the points required to secure a place on the International Business course in UL. He’s still part of the Munster sub-academy, but that hasn’t stopped Anthony Foley from testing him at senior level this summer.

Those who watched Johnston in action in last season’s Munster Schools Senior Cup might not have been too surprised to hear that the Clonmel man showed up well against Grenoble and Connacht.

The Ireland Schools international trained with Munster throughout the summer, and though he is still learning the game, head coach Foley had no hesitation in sending Johnston into the mix against Grenoble and Connacht.

MunsterÕs Bill Johnston Johnston on the attack during the defeat to Connacht.

“I think once you work with a guy like that, you understand that he’s a fella that has a lot of ability, a lot of maturity around him for an 18-year-old,” said Foley at this afternoon’s Guinness Pro12 launch in London.

“He’s a fella that has automatically grown confident within the group. The players are raving about him, so that’s a good sign for an 18-year-old. He knows his place within the group and works hard.

It also helps that his older brother Dave is in the group, he’s going really well for us as well. People say he (Bill) is one for the future, but certainly at the minute he’s one for now.”

It’s a ringing endorsement from Foley, who is also excited by the potential of the 21-year-old David, who has played at out-half, fullback and in the centre during his short career so far.

Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's exclusive analysis on the URC interpros and Champions Cup clashes this December

Become a Member

MunsterÕs David Johnston 21-year-old David is also a strong place kicker.

The older Johnston was part of the Rockwell College side that won the 2012 Munster Schools Senior Cup, and also played for Ireland at Schools and U19 levels.

It may prove that Munster and Foley are giving the Clonmel brothers exposure now that will stand them in good stead further down the line, but it seems likely that Bill Johnston is a young man we will see a lot more of.

“He’s a very impressive individual,” said Foley, “so we’ll look at keeping him in tow and see where he goes.”

Still room for ‘right person’ as Leinster’s backs coach under Cullen

Italy’s most capped player left out of 31-man World Cup squad

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next: