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'What Munster are getting is two World Cup-winning, world-class players'

Bryan Habana is a huge fan of Munster boss Johann van Graan.

RIGHT NOW, RG Snyman is in self-isolation in Limerick but Damian de Allende is already through his 14-day stint of it and settling into his new home city.

Seeing the Springbok pair unleashed on the pitch is one of the reasons Munster fans are so excited for the return of rugby.

Snyman and de Allende will be eligible to play as soon as rugby is back up and running in this country, with the IRFU hoping that will be on Saturday 22 August with a clash between Munster and Leinster behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium.

england-v-south-africa-2019-rugby-world-cup-final-yokohama-stadium Damian de Allende after the Boks won the World Cup last year. Source: Ashley Western

Such a fixture would attract viewers from around the rugby-starved world, including Bryan Habana, the former Springboks wing.

Habana is close to Munster boss Johann van Graan, who he says he met just last week, and appreciates how good these two World Cup-winning additions are for the southern province as they look to move to the next level after a string of semi-final disappointments.

“Munster are probably going through a bit of a development phase since Johann van Graan arrived there,” said Springboks legend Habana today on a video call to launch MatchKit.co.

“I think the success that Rassie Erasmus enjoyed during a short space of time – there was a lot of expectation.

“Munster not qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup was very disappointing, but what they are getting is two World Cup-winning, world-class players.

“Damian De Allende was one of my unsung heroes of Rugby World Cup 2019. His ability to not only dominate the collision on attack and defence, but his passing – he’s probably one of the best passers I’ve ever seen in the game off both left and right.

“RG Snyman is someone who again will add a brawn and element of physicality that any team in the world would love.

“So, in this rebuilding phase, I know Johann van Graan will be extremely excited to get those two in.

“Arno Botha is leaving, but the class you’re getting with Damian and RG, I honestly believe it will only benefit Munster Rugby.

“In my personal opinion, they would not have made the decision to go to Munster if they didn’t believe they were going to a club with some of the best values in the game, a club that could reach higher honours.”

FB 4 Habana was launching MatchKit.co.

Given the quality of the two signings, there will understandably be more pressure on van Graan for Munster to begin delivering success on the pitch.

Stephen Larkham and Graham Rowntree joined van Graan’s coaching staff last season, bringing major experience with them, while defence specialist JP Ferreira remains in place. Munster still hope to add a fifth coach to the set-up.

While van Graan has yet to win a trophy since arriving to replace Rassie Erasmus in 2017, Habana – who worked with him at the Bulls and with the Springboks – believes he is the ideal man to be heading up Munster’s challenge.

“We met each other last week,” said Habana of van Graan. “I don’t want to call him a mentor but we started off with the Bulls back in 2005 and he’s a guy who not only wears his heart on his sleeve but has values and principles that he doesn’t easily veer from.

“He’s a person that likes the emotional connection and authenticity that he has with coaching staff and players.

“He’s someone I go to, not for advice or only for friendship, but he’s someone I believe stands for values and doesn’t deviate off that course.

“So, he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. His role as a head coach is a lot different to what it had been throughout his coaching career, but he wants to make a difference and an impact with players’ lives.

“He wants to put his own flavour on his coaching staff and, again, that initially didn’t take traction but I think from what I’ve heard the players in Limerick are getting a good appreciation of him and what he stands for.

“Hopefully, that off-field inclusion and relationship-building he has built over the last few years will soon reflect into the on-field performances that Munster would like to get them to the top level of the Champions Cup and Pro14.”

Bryan Habana was speaking at the launch of MatchKit.co – a mobile web app developed to help athletes maximise the commercialisation of their careers. It automatically integrates into existing social media channels to show potential sponsors the scope and quality of an athlete’s influence.

Originally published at 13.56

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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