'He's such a hard-working lad on and off the pitch' - Casey in fine form for Munster

The 21-year-old has started four consecutive games for the southern province.

Craig Casey was man of the match for Munster last weekend.
Craig Casey was man of the match for Munster last weekend.
Image: Rogan Thomson/INPHO

THERE WAS A hint of Craig Casey’s leadership as he collected his man-of-the-match award in Newport last weekend.

Of course, the Munster scrum-half was correct in saying that “in wet weather, it’s down to the pack” as he pushed the credit firmly onto his “immense” forwards but there’s no doubting that the province’s backline also did well in the rain.

Johann van Graan’s side were probably frustrated not to notch a bonus-point win against the Dragons but there were plenty of positives including 21-year-old Casey’s latest promising showing in the number nine shirt.

The Limerick man recently trained with the Ireland squad, underlining that he is very much viewed as a player with Test-level potential, and has started the new season in strong form for Munster as he has racked up four consecutive starts.

The Shannon man first broke through into the senior squad last season but Munster feel he is now moving to a new level with the increased responsibility of being the starting scrum-half with Conor Murray away.

“I think he is an exceptional player,” said Munster defence coach JP Ferreira yesterday. “He is just such a hard-working lad, on and off the pitch.

“He is always there after training, working hard on his extras, but then as well, like last night – today is a bit of a defence day – last night at 9 o’clock he sent me all the defence notes that he has taken. It is small things like that which will make him a great player one day.

“He is just working constantly on his game but also he is taking on board suggestions on how he can improve as well from the likes of Steve [Larkham] and myself in defence.

“As you probably would have noticed, I have changed the defensive system a little bit with him being in the boot [behind the frontline defence], he has taken it on really well.

“He is running that for me and Nick McCarthy on the weekend will do the same, but he is just running that system for me at the moment.

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“I am really impressed with him, but he has just got to be patient and I think he knows that. I don’t think he is expecting too much which is a good thing. He has just got to be patient and bide his time

“The [Ireland] call-up will come, he has just got to bide his time.”

joey-carbery Joey Carbery is keeping involved with the Munster squad. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Meanwhile, Ferreira said that long-term injury absentees Joey Carbery and RG Snyman both remain involved with the wider Munster group as much as possible.

Carbery is sidelined indefinitely with an ankle injury, while Snyman had ACL surgery at the start of September.

“We have kept them around, they are busy rehabbing sort of in their own bubble with the rehab group,” said Ferreira. “Then they come out of that and can sit in our team meetings, still have a feel for it.

“Joey is around. He is in our unit meetings and obviously on the pitch, he has a good look, has a bit of a say as well, so we are trying to keep their minds active in this time.

“I also know that RG is taking up some course that he is going to do now, so that is going to keep his mind busy as well but they, with time permitting on their rehab schedule, are floating in and out of the squad.”

Munster were due to play Benetton in the Guinness Pro14 this Saturday but the fixture has been postponed due to Covid-19 cases in the Italian club.

Benetton’s scheduled visit to Connacht last weekend was also postponed for the same reason.

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