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'There's potentially an embarrassment of riches for Munster in that position'

Ben Healy, Jack Crowley, and Jake Flannery will all be hoping for senior team action next season.

ONE SPORTSPERSON’S MISFORTUNE can often be another’s opportunity.

We have seen it time and time again in rugby. So while Tyler Bleyendaal’s team-mates in Munster will be united in wishing him well as he retires, there will be a handful of players in the province who are also cognisant of the potential chances that have opened up at out-half.

It’s a subject that Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella discussed on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.

pjimage Munster have three exciting possible options coming through at out-half. Source: INPHO

With 29-year-old Bleyendaal sadly ending his career based on medical advice, Munster have two senior out-halves left in Joey Carbery and JJ Hanrahan. It seems likely that if Carbery can get fully fit again, he will often be away in Ireland camp.

Hanrahan enjoyed an excellent 2019/20 season so is the clear second-choice, but there are three exciting young talents in the depth chart at out-half in the shape of academy playmakers Ben Healy and Jake Flannery, as well as this year’s Ireland U20 out-half, Jack Crowley – who is expected to advance into the academy next season.

On today’s The42 Rugby Weekly podcast, Gavan, Murray, and Bernard discussed Munster’s depth chart at 10. 

Murray: “Ideally, Joey Carbery is going to come back fully fit and you would expect he will be away in Ireland camps. JJ Hanrahan had a bit of a renaissance this season, looked really good, looked happy and confident, has done a lot of work on his mental skills. He looks in good nick to be that next in line.

“Then you have Ben Healy, Jack Crowley – we’re expecting him to come into the academy after an impressive Ireland U20s campaign and shining in the AIL with Cork Con as well – and there’s Jake Flannery, who is possibly going to end up as a 15 but has played a lot of rugby at 10.

“You’ve got those three young guys who will be really eyeing up quite a few minutes. Healy got a bit of exposure this season, probably not quite as much as he would have hoped for with injuries at out-half, but he’s a real talent – an excellent kicker of the ball, an intelligent manager of the game.

“We’ve seen Crowley’s ability to linebreak with the U20s but again he has that confident streak to boss a team around. Flannery is that 10/15 playmaker who can maybe be the second set of hands further out the backline.

“It’s a really interesting crop and Rory Scannell can cover 10 as well in the event that there are injuries. There’s an interesting battle there in behind Carbery and Hanrahan as the two senior out-halves. I hope to see those young guys get a bit of exposure in bigger games.

“It would be excellent for Munster to push another one of their players through in that position.”

Gavan: “Yeah, there’s potentially an embarrassment of riches for Munster in that position, Bernard.

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“If we take for granted that Carbery, if fit, is going to be the franchise player, guaranteed to start in the major games and you take into consideration that Hanrahan is 27, do you get the sense from speaking to Munster or with your insider knowledge that there is one player coming up from behind that Munster would foresee as being the heir to that throne or in the mix with Carbery down the line?

“Or is it still very much up for grabs because Flannery, Crowley and Healy are in developmental stages of their respective careers?”

Bernard: “It’s phenomenal to have three players of that potential behind two experienced 10s, one marquee player in Carbery and JJ is still going to get better, he’s only 27.

“They’re rich in terms of their depth in that position. I don’t know which of them will come through. The great thing is that if they can get back doing team training this summer, for the three of those guys to have exposure to Stephen Larkham and get a chance to show what they can do and learn from being in that senior environment.

“That’s sometimes the biggest challenge – someone who is more talented at U20s level maybe struggles to impose themselves in terms of their character with the senior internationals, British & Irish Lions.

“Sometimes a player who didn’t have as much obvious potential thrives in that environment and responds well to the competition. Even if Munster did know who their third-choice was at the moment, that could change very quickly.

“That’s why it’s always exciting to have three players like that who have obvious potential in the same position.

“You’d like to think that they’ll drive each other on to become better and try to put pressure on JJ and Joey.”

You can listen to The42 Rugby Weekly below or on your favourite podcast app. 

Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella join Gavan Casey to discuss the latest rugby news, with a focus on Tyler Bleyendaal, James Cronin, Robin Copeland and disaster Down Under.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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