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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018

Sevens alumnus Goggin a powerful addition to Munster midfield

The Young Munster man has shown his worth at both 12 and 13 and could have played his way into the biggest test of Munster’s season.

Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland


With a run of barnstorming performances through four starts and three tries this season, Dan Goggin has made himself something of a surprise package in Munster’s midfield.

The 23-year-old suffered a nasty knee injury in the opening Pro14 round of last-season, curtailing his rise through the ranks. Yet even while he enduring the road the rehabilitation, Johann van Graan had spotted something in the Limerick man – a lflicker from a young prospect that occurred  when Van Graan was still settled as Springbok forwards coach.

“When I arrived here last year, obviously you don’t know all the players, especially the guys that were injured,” said Van Graan, “there was one clip I remembered against Connacht at home two years back and he made a read that led to a try. I saw there was something about this guy.”

A first senior contract heralded Goggin’s approach run towards first-team contention and after settling back into the red jersey during the Six Nations, a try against the Southern Kings offered another encouraging signal of what was to come this season.

“He has been brilliant,” says Keith Earls before a nod to Goggin’s experience of a season in Anthony Eddy’s Ireland Sevens setup as a key element in his improvement.

“He works hard, he is a big physical man. He has been given an exposure to Sevens and his passing game has come on massively because of Sevens.

“He is taking his chances. It is great for him and for us, to have another Limerick man coming through.”

It’s brilliant for our academy and the more we can get through the better. There is phenomenal talent throughout the province, but you do need the one or two signings to make things tick.”

Separately, Van Graan echoed Earls’ delight that the Munster academy was responsible for this particular bright spark. But the head coach doesn’t pick his side with regional bias, his eye for the minute details keep Goggin firmly in the picture.

“He was kind of on the brink all the time and he’s just really attacked this pre-season,” said the head coach. “I thought he played really well in the pre-season games and he built into the season and I believe he’s ready for a massive step up.

“His basics are solid, he’s running so hard and is getting us over the gain-line. He’s a very good distributor of the ball, his defence is solid, he steals at the breakdown and he’s worked so much on his decision-making and communication skills.”

Against Leinster, Goggin and Sam Arnold partnered up to make a direct and robust centre pairing. Rory Scannell’s playmaking and game management would appear indispensable for Munster if they are to mine anything from Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup trip to Exeter, however.

So there is a quandary for Van Graan: Goggin has presented a strong case for inclusion for this biggest of tests, while Arnold has more big-game experience.

“It’s different for each week,” the South African explains. His midfield will be selected on a horses-for-courses basis.

“If there’s not a lot really between the players you sometimes just with your gut. We’re lucky to have three guys in pretty good form at this stage.

“We’d love to have Chris Farrell back in the future as well and also Jaco Taute. Currently we’ve got those three centres available and I think they’ve been doing well over the last few weeks.”

Saturday will be a step up for everyone.

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Sean Farrell

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