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'Rory is just amazing' - Larkham impressed with Scannell's skills

Johann van Graan name-checked some of the promising young players in the province.

STEPHEN LARKHAM IS honest enough to admit that he’s still learning some of the Munster squad’s names at this early stage, but he’s been impressed at the quality within the playing group in Munster.

Now settling in as ‘senior coach‘ in Johann van Graan’s staff, the former Australia out-half has been assessing the skillsets of those he will be working with for the next three years.

rory-scannell Scannell at Munster training in UL this week. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Larkham is naturally excited to work with out-half Joey Carbery, who has some likenesses to the former Wallabies playmaker, and he has identified plenty of quality across the backline.

Ireland internationals Carbery, Conor Murray, Keith Earls, Andrew Conway, and Chris Farrell may not be back for some time yet depending on Ireland’s final World Cup squad selection, but Larkham has already picked out Rory Scannell as an important player.

The Cork man was part of Ireland’s extended training squad for much of the pre-season ahead of the World Cup but was among those players cut from the squad as Joe Schmidt whittled his numbers down coming into the warm-up games.

25-year-old Scannell is now back in Munster, training hard and showing Larkham his abilities.

“Rory is great,” said Larkham this week. “I didn’t know enough about the players here before I got here, but Rory is just amazing.

“He’s just so consistent and he takes the right options, He’s got a great left foot and he’s got all the skills as well so he’s very talented.”

“I believe he transitioned from five-eighth [out-half] to second five-eighth [inside centre] at some stage so I could see him as a potential first five-eighth for us as well further down the track, having that left-foot option.”

rory-scannell Scannell spent much of the summer with Ireland. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Getting the best out of Scannell’s playmaking abilities in midfield will be among Larkham’s tasks over the coming season, but he’s excited about the quality of player across the board.

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“There’s some good talent here,” said the Australian. “Dan Goggin is another one in the inside backs, and there’s Chris Farrell and there’s Earlsy and there’s Andy Conway and Joey and Conor still to come back so it’s a pretty talented backline.

“And another reason for me coming over here was certainly the roster, having that backline which is an international backline.”

The World Cup period is likely to mean opportunities for younger players who otherwise might not have had first-team chances in the Guinness Pro14 and, as such, head coach van Graan has integrated the entire Munster academy into senior training so far this summer.

That may be tapered back when the competitive season gets underway, but van Graan underlined that Munster have lots of promising players working hard to break through.

“It’s exciting to work with guys like Josh Wycherley, who will become an international prop,” said van Graan. “It’s the first time you can actually work with them – week in and week out – certainly those two young hookers, Diarmuid Barron and Eoghan Clarke.

“Some of the young locks coming through – someone like Thomas Ahern, I think he is still a season or two off, but I think athletically what that guy can bring in future…

thomas-ahern Ireland U20 international lock Thomas Ahern. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“John Hodnett is somebody who has really impressed me in the last few weeks, he’s great to work with. We’ve got Craig Casey, it’s the first time I’ve worked with Ben Healy. Also, for those two to have Stephen [Larkham] in now.

“Shane Daly, you guys know what I think of him, and we’re going to try him out in a few different positions in the pre-season. Somebody like Seán French is a very exciting rugby player.

“It’s great to work with these guys, they’ll have to step up and carry us for the first part of the season.

“Hopefully, some of those guys will do so well that when the internationals come back they’ll actually push them for places because that’s the only way to move your team forward. Guys get older and you need to replace them from within and that’s what we need to do.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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