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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Munster centre Antoine Frisch.
# rugby weekly extra
'He helps Munster get to places they have struggled to get without him'
Antoine Frisch came in for praise on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra.

THE EXCITEMENT ABOUT centre Antoine Frisch continues to grow among Munster fans. 

The French-born, Irish-qualified midfielder was excellent again last weekend as Graham Rowntree’s side grabbed a crucial bonus-point win away to Edinburgh, lifting themselves into the URC play-off spots before turning their attention towards the Champions Cup.

Frisch is a player with the potential to break through at international level with Ireland, as discussed by Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – a podcast available to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday.

Outside centre Malakai Fekitoa was the big-name summer signing for Munster but he has been pushed out of the team by Frisch, who toured with Emerging Ireland this season but hasn’t yet been capped at senior level.

Kinsella: “Frisch is just taking so much pressure off Joey Carbery and the halfbacks because he’s a creator and a linebreaker. He’s all-round in attack. He looks like a bit of a throwback to an era in the past, he’s like an old-fashioned classy centre.

“How much of a game-changer is he for the province, to have a centre of that creative slant?”

Jackman: “It’s key. I spoke to Johnny Sexton about the luxury he has of playing with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose every week for Leinster and Ireland. He knows they will be able to throw a pass or fix somebody to put someone else away so it’s not all on the 10.

“I’m a big fan of Damian de Allende (who was with Munster last season) but he isn’t that type of player. He’s about go-forward and there were games where he didn’t really look that bothered. He’s a big-game player.

“I spoke to Conor McPhillips (Frisch’s former coach in Bristol) and he thinks Frisch is going to be a 12.”

antoine-frisch-after-the-game Morgan Treacy / INPHO Frisch has quickly become a fan favourite. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Kinsella: “That’s what I thought as well, that it would be him and Fekitoa in midfield.”

Jackman: “Conor thinks his best position long-term will be 12 but I think Munster need him now as a 13. It will be interesting how that develops. I’d love to see into the future to see where Fekitoa comes into it. Can they get the best out of him? Could they be a combination? Or if not, do they trade him in and spend their money somewhere else?

“Fekitoa has been a class player in his career but it’s just whether they can get him back to that level. I’m not being ageist because I’ve seen All Blacks like Jerome Kaino or Victor Vito come to France, now they’re forwards, but have an unbelievable influence.

“Frisch just does things that are very simple and does them really well. Some of his clips aren’t worldly moments. But when you see 10 of them together over the course of 80 minutes and the effect it has on making Munster look better, other players look better, and making it all more fluid, well then it’s important. 

“It’s a skill in itself. I wouldn’t call him a glue player but he certainly helps Munster get into places that they have struggled to get without him.”

Kinsella: “Yeah, he looks good but he also makes others look good which is a really nice blend. The Fekitoa thing, I’m sure you’re hearing the same, there is a bit of chat that they may try to get out of that deal a little bit earlier.

“It is still early days. He has had a tough time settling in, he’s had a kid, he’s back with Tonga and definitely fatigued from the summer and November campaigns, all the travelling.

“He is a strike runner. In the first few games, they were trying to use him as a creator and he’s just not that. He doesn’t have that profile. That’s why I thought the Frisch and Fekitoa combination could work really well – Fekitoa picking lines, sitting down defenders at the front door and giving guys out the back a chance.

antoine-frisch Morgan Treacy / INPHO Frisch joined Munster from Bristol. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“Frisch has played a bit at out-half and you can see that in his game. He’s got a kicking game which we haven’t seen yet so I think there’s more to come from this guy. 

“He signed on a three-year deal and I know some people are worried about France (calling him up) but he wasn’t going to sign in Ireland on a three-year if he’s not committing his potential Test future to Ireland.”

Jackman: “He could have gone to France last summer and the reality is that it would then have been a decision for Ireland if they wanted to cancel the contract. If he went to Japan with France and if he was on say €200,000 with Munster, he would pick that up in the Top 14. He has made the decision to come to Ireland for the long-term.”

Elsewhere on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, the lads discussed Leinster’s stunning comeback win over Ulster and Connacht’s victory against Benetton.

There was also a look ahead to the Champions Cup, as well as a chat about Eddie Jones and Welsh rugby.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, as well as every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie

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