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Improved squad depth will push standards at Munster - Rowntree

The Munster forwards coach also discussed the team’s style of play.

Graham Rowntree during a Munster squad training session on Wednesday.
Graham Rowntree during a Munster squad training session on Wednesday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FORWARDS COACH GRAHAM Rowntree reckons the Munster squad depth is the best he has seen since he moved to Limerick two years ago and he’s hopeful that the battle for places in the side will push standards higher.

The former England prop believes that the level of stock they have for each position is good and after two opening round wins they can now build on their impressive start to the United Rugby Championship when they head to Wales to take on Scarlets on Sunday.

Their latest signing from South Africa, versatile back Jason Jenkins, is in line for his debut but the one-time capped Springbok is guaranteed nothing and will have to force his way into the side.

Rowntree said it will be the same for Irish-qualified hooker Declan Moore who was last month signed from the Melbourne Rebels, with the 24-year old currently getting used to his new surroundings and training to get his way into the matchday squad.

“He’s had a baptism of fire, he has been thrown into our live sessions and he’s learning and he’s coped,” said Rowntree. “He’s a very physical player, very athletic but he’s just being getting used to how we do things here around set-piece and our lineout calling structure and he’s come through well.

When we use him we will wait and see. Again, he’s in a position there where the stocks are high, we have some good guys there who have been patiently waiting their turn. He’ll join that queue but from what I’ve seen of him, good guy, good to coach, athletic and wants to get better.”

Rowntree said that Jenkins, a versatile 6’7”, who was unavailable for the opening two games against the Sharks and the Stormers due to a shoulder injury, could be in line for his debut in Llanelli but he had a battle on his hands to get into the side in a very competitive squad.

“I’d say since I’ve been here it’s the strongest we’ve had and the longest selection meetings, put it that way. That’s all I can speak for since I’ve been here, the depth is as much as it’s been,” added Rowntree.

He said that World Cup winner RG Snyman, who scored his first Munster try last weekend when he came off the bench for the second week running, would continue to build up his game-time, and added that Joey Carbery was making progress but also needed more time on the pitch for maximum impact.

jason-jenkins-and-ben-healy Jason Jenkins could make his debut against the Scarlets on Sunday. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Judge him when he’s had that consistency of game time, when he’s had those minutes under his belt. He’s been great for the group, leads the group well, trains well, good to see him back. It’s just good to see him back out on the training field and getting game time. He’s currently very good for the group.”

Munster’s style of player has varied in the opening round wins over the Sharks and Stormers and Rowntree admitted that the old-style up front power of going through teams is never far from what they do.

“That’s our DNA isn’t it? That’s the bedrock of our game but you need every tool available. We talk about an all-round game, playing the conditions, playing the opposition. You kind of feel a team out and find out where you can punish them, then you go through that point.

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“Every team in the world does that and you’d be a fool if you didn’t play to your strengths, but I think the development of our attacking game under Steve (Larkham) has been incredible. 

“I take it back to the last try we scored against the Sharks for example and the amount of offloads in that game. I see the structure and the detail that he’s bringing to our attack. It’s impressive, more than anything I’ve seen before but you need to get back to what’s working for you, but you want every tool available in your armoury.” 

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John Fallon

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