Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
# familiar face
Hard-working Donnacha Ryan remains respected within the Munster ranks
Munster had only good things to say about the Nenagh man post-match in Paris.

Murray Kinsella reports from Paris

AS DONNACHA RYAN tore across the artificial turf to regather that crucial kick-off for Racing 92 against Munster at the U Arena yesterday, Johann van Graan could have been forgiven for wishing that the second row was still wearing a red jersey.

When Ryan led the kick chasing line to pressurise Ian Keatley into a poor kick minutes later to provide Racing with another penalty and the chance for breathing space, Munster boss van Graan might have thought the same again.

Donncha Ryan with Duncan Williams and Billy Holland Billy Stickland / INPHO Ryan poses with Duncan Williams and Billy Holland. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Of course, Munster have had an excellent second row pairing in Jean Kleyn and Billy Holland this season but Ryan delivered a hard-working reminder of his class yesterday.

Van Graan never had the opportunity to coach the 47-times capped Ireland international but he has as much respect for Ryan as the rest of the Munster set-up do.

“He and I just had a chat inside after in the cloakroom,” said van Graan in Paris after his side had been beaten 34-30. “He’s a fantastic guy, a Munster guy, a world-class player.

“If you just looked at the hype around him all week, we knew that he’s a big moment player and that last one there on the touchline, that was a pretty big moment for a lock to chase that after 75 minutes, pretty special.

“I think that’s the beauty of rugby, you could see the respect all the players have for him when he got into the changing room. I think it’s mutual respect, some of their coaches also came in and that’s why I’m in rugby.

“For a massive battle outside, and we would love to get that four or five points but we didn’t win that last five minutes, but at the end of the day it’s a game and we love to be part of it.”

There were no hard feelings between the sides at the end of a thrilling contest in Paris, even after there had a been a few moments of high temper during the 80 minutes.

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Billy Holland and Donnacha Ryan Dan Sheridan / INPHO Ryan competes ferociously at lineout time. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Surely the presence of Ryan was one of the reasons, with the French club’s Irishman heading for Munster’s changing room post-match to catch up with his former team-mates.

“Yeah, it was good to have him in there,” said Munster number eight CJ Stander. “Look, he’s a tough man. He knows exactly what we do so he made it a bit difficult for us. I think he played a great game.

“I think that kick-off he caught at the end of the game was exceptional. It just shows what a tough player he is. It was good to see afterwards in the changing room and have a chat with him, and see how life is here for him. It looks like he was certainly enjoying it.”

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