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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 14 April 2021
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'I'm bloody delighted': New cap Kleyn makes his presence felt

Joe Schmidt hailed the Munster second row’s debut performance against Italy.

Kleyn with his father and brother after the game.
Kleyn with his father and brother after the game.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

AS WELL AS his first cap, Jean Kleyn will have a scar just above his left eye to remember his Ireland debut by. 

The Munster second row required a number of stitches to close up a nasty-looking cut he sustained during the second half yesterday afternoon, but that didn’t stop him savouring the moment post-match with family and friends.

With his father and brother among a large contingent who flew into Dublin from South Africa for the occasion, Kleyn enjoyed an excellent debut performance for Ireland, just two days after he became eligible. 

“I’m bloody delighted,” he said on the pitch at full-time. “It has been an absolute honour representing my adopted country for the first time. A lot of hard work, but at the end of the day it pays off.

“I’m just grateful for Munster and all the work the coaches have done for me and obviously the Irish coaches for giving me the shot.

“My family actually all hopped on a plane from South Africa when they heard [he was playing], so there is a good few of them sitting in the crowd, which I’m delighted about.

“It’s good to know I can share it with them as well.”

Kleyn settled into the Ireland second row alongside Devin Toner seamlessly, bringing huge physicality and aggression to the engine room, while offering a big ball-carrying threat.

Jean Kleyn celebrates after the game Kleyn enjoyed a fine debut. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While still playing catch-up in his bid to make the World Cup squad, the South African-born lock added no shortage of power to the Irish set-piece, in addition to making 16 tackles, second only behind Munster team-mate Tommy O’Donnell. 

The 25-year-old was then forced off for treatment on the cut he sustained shortly after the hour mark, but overall Joe Schmidt was delighted with what he saw from his new second row. 

“I thought Jean acquitted himself really well,” the Ireland head coach said.

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“Our scrum was really good in the first half. We probably had four scrums and got penalties off them, on the back of some really good power that he through it.

“Around the pitch his work-rate was excellent, a couple of really good impact tackles, that certainly stopped the Italian momentum when he got involved.

“He’s a big man, around 6 foot 7 or 8 inches, about 120kg, he is your genuine stock standard tighthead lock, who gets through a lot of work in the tight.

“He defended well, it was a good starting point for him.”

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Ryan Bailey

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