Van Graan thrilled for first signing Loughman

Munster prop Jeremy Loughman has been called up to the senior Ireland squad for the first time.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MUNSTER COACH JOHANN van Graan said that the Six Nations call-up for prop Jeremy Loughman is the latest twist in an incredible journey.

The 26-year old, who was born in Nevada and grew up in Athy, was van Graan’s first signing for Munster and he’s thrilled for him that he’s now in the Irish squad.

“It’s great for him to be called up to the national team,” said van Graan. “If you think back to 2017 when I joined Munster, he was the first player that I signed. We had an injury crisis the week that I arrived and we brought him from Dublin, so he’s the first new guy that came to Munster while I was there.

“An incredible journey that he has been on, coming from club land, making his way through the PRO14 at that stage. I remember that European game against the Ospreys when he threw that ridiculous pass from left to right to Andrew Conway when he was man of the match. And he has just become one of those guys, week in, week out, is available.

“His scrummaging has come on a lot and just for him to be at the national team is just brilliant. It couldn’t happen to a nice bloke who has worked really hard. Like we said, the more guys we can have with the national team the better.”

jeremy-loughman Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Van Graan might have expected Loughman to have been on the plane on Sunday as they head for South Africa for their re-fixed games against his former club the Bulls this Saturday and the Lions the following week.

Van Graan said they have settled in well to their training base in Pretoria and are hopeful that there will not be any Covid issues this time after the tour turned into a disaster before Christmas when the games were called off.

“We spoke as a group a few weeks ago and said that what happened is in the past. It was very unfortunate that we got stuck, that a lot of our lads got stuck and most of us got Covid and the effect that had on the group.

“But now a fresh start, everyone is in great spirits. We flew from Dublin to Paris after making our way from Cork and Limerick on Sunday, spent about five hours at Charles de Gaulle, then flew overnight to Johannesburg and got on the bus and into Pretoria around lunchtime yesterday (MON).

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“We had a bit of a recovery, then had dinner together last night and then a training session this (TUES) morning and everyone is in great spirits. The weather is fantastic and looking forward to the week.”

damian-de-allende Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Springbok World Cup winner Damian de Allende has fully recovered from an abdomen injury as Munster prepare for the challenges of the next two weekends without nine Irish internationals.

“Damian was part of training today, obviously fit to play and we will decide later in the week how we are going to use him whether it is this weekend or next weekend,” added van Graan.

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John Fallon

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