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118kg South African teenage tighthead links with Munster's academy

The 18-year-old starred for the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks side at last year’s Craven Week.

PROMISING SOUTH AFRICAN tighthead prop Keynan Knox has linked up with Munster’s academy.

The 118kg front row only finished school late last year, but has already moved to Ireland and is training with the southern province’s academy.

Munster have not yet confirmed what kind of contract Knox has signed but the 18-year-old appears to have a bright future in the game.

Knox was the 1st XV captain of the Michaelhouse school last year, as well as starring for the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks provincial side at the U18 Craven Week – one of the most prestigious schoolboy competitions in world rugby.

Michaelhouse has produced Springboks such as Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronjé, Patrick Lambie and Pat Cilliers, as well as Ireland international Robbie Diack and former Munster back Pat Howard.

Knox, who is over 6ft tall, is thought to have impressed with his set-piece work and general play at the 2017 Craven Week – a tournament that is followed closely by scouts from around the global game.

The mobility and dynamism he brings, along with his size, appear to have attracted Munster’s interest and it’s understood that CEO Garrett Fitzgerald played a key role in organising Knox’s move to Ireland.

Munster have already looked outside these shores for academy talent on a number of occasions in the past, with Alex Wootton providing one particularly successful example of the benefits.

Wales-born fullback James McCarthy joined Munster’s academy at the start of this season, having come through the Dragons U18 ranks before representing Wales at U18 level.

McCarthy’s father is Irish, however, and the IRFU’s IQ Rugby branch identified him as a good prospect, leading to a move to Munster, where he is now attending the University of Limerick and playing club rugby with UL Bohemians.

McCarthy has played for the Ireland U18 Sevens team and is currently part of the Ireland U20 squad, featuring in warm-up games for Noel McNamara’s side ahead of the Six Nations.

IQ Rugby were not involved in Munster’s move for Knox and he is not Irish-qualified, but he adds to the potential within the province’s academy ranks.

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Murray Kinsella

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