'He has all the attributes' - Munster scrum-half Casey tipped for the top

The 21-year-old made a short cameo off the bench against Leinster last weekend.

IT WAS ONLY an 11-minute cameo last Saturday night but 21-year-old Munster scrum-half Craig Casey managed to add to the ever-growing excitement around his potential.

The Limerick man already has three Munster starts under his belt from before the lockdown and he, more than anyone, knows that he still has big strides of progress to make in the coming months and seasons.

His short involvement off the bench against Leinster was Casey’s eighth Munster cap so far but the likelihood is that we will be seeing plenty more of the Shannon RFC man in the short-term and long-term future.

craig-casey Casey at Munster training in UL. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After the experienced Conor Murray had delivered a strong performance for 69 minutes minutes – passing accurately, box-kicking superbly, and defending as well as ever – Casey took to the field and showed his energy.

To be fair, Casey had delivered plenty of that from the sideline too, roaring encouragement and suggestions to his team-mates while warming up throughout the game.

Despite his youth, Casey is already showing leadership in the Munster squad, with reports from training suggesting he has no issue with speaking up even amongst far more experienced players.

His very first pass on Saturday caused JJ Hanrahan to slightly check as he jumped to gather the ball but Casey settled into his rhythm rapidly and began firing the accurate, zippy passes that the Munster coaching staff rate so highly.

Casey had 24 passes in total, impressing most notably in the phases before Andrew Conway’s second try. He had two box kicks, the second of which was excellent.

There was some criticism of Casey nudging the ball into touch with the clock in the red and Munster two points behind, but attempting to run poor quality possession a few metres out from your own tryline isn’t always the best idea. Munster made a collective decision to take their losing bonus point.

As is always the case with promising young players, there will be clamour for Casey to immediately jump into Munster’s first-choice team but the former Ardscoil Rís student will understand the need to keep learning and improving. 

That said, his promise should be good for Murray too. Competition for places is always a welcome thing and Johann van Graan will hope to see Casey continue his growth and put some real heat on the longstanding starting nine.

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Along with Munster fans, the province’s senior squad are excited about the young scrum-half’s potential.

“He definitely has all the attributes to go to the very, very top,” said out-half JJ Hanrahan of Casey.

“We always joke, he’s a small lad, but he is a fella that uses that to his advantage with his speed, his pace of play, but he also has an incredibly hard work ethic off the field as well.

“He’s probably one of the last guys leaving the training pitch every day.

“That’s good when he’s young, he probably needs to control that when he’s a bit older, but he’s an incredibly hard-working player. So are all the other nines, they work hard and push each other on well. Craig was very good at the weekend when he came on.”

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Murray Kinsella

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