RG Snyman in Munster training on Tuesday. Ben Brady/INPHO
rugby brain

Munster excited to see Snyman re-apply his knowledge to the field after 18 months out

Denis Leamy and Fineen Wycherley spoke of Snyman’s off-field influence ahead of his potential on-field return this Friday.

MUNSTER DEFENCE COACH Denis Leamy and second row Fineen Wycherley are excited for the southern province to welcome back to the field RG Snyman, whom Leamy says is “absolutely available” for Friday night’s URC fixture with Scarlets at Musgrave Park.

South African World Cup winner Snyman has played less than an hour’s rugby across four games for Munster since becoming a marquee signing under Johann van Graan in 2020, twice rupturing his same anterior cruciate ligament and ostensibly missing out on two and a half years of his career.

But 18 months after he re-injured his knee just minutes into his first comeback from the initial ACL tear, Snyman is back in full flight in training and could finally relaunch his Munster career when Scarlets — unbeaten in six games this calendar year — land onto Leeside this weekend.

“Yes, he is absolutely available for this weekend,” Leamy said of the 28-year-old lock. “He’s come through the last couple of days really well. Preparations are going very well for Friday night and RG is in good nick and he’s up for selection along with the other 55 players that we have available to us at the moment.

“It’s exciting to have him back around the place. Obviously, he’s a world class player, a World Cup winner; just the energy that he has, the experience he has, even in reviews and stuff like that he really has an awful lot of knowledge that we can draw on. He’s a very interesting guy to pick his brain.

“It’s pretty exciting for us to have him back. We’ll sit down and pick the team in the afternoon (Tuesday) but he is available for selection. We’ll see how that goes.”

denis-leamy Munster defence coach Denis Leamy. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

While Leamy also flagged that Munster will be further bolstered at second row by the respective returns of Thomas Ahern and Edwin Edogbo in the coming weeks, Fineen Wycherley — who has also missed a chunk of this season through injury — was quick to tip his cap to their fellow lock Snyman ahead of the Springbok’s longer-awaited comeback.

“Look, I think you can’t shy away from the fact that he’s had a horrific time since he’s come to Munster in terms of his injuries,” said the Coomhola man. “But I think he’s added to us as a squad over the last number of years in different ways. Off the pitch, as a second row, I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s been very helpful to a lot of the younger lads coming through and he’s quite a positive figure even though it’s been a tough time.

When the team is going well and things like that, he gets behind us, and when the team is going poorly, he’s a man to pull you up.

“Even when he’s not playing himself, he’s been a great character around the building and it’s just fantastic for him to be back on the pitch and doing what he loves; and getting his opportunity at the weekend, hopefully, coming back into the Munster team and playing in Cork.”

fineen-wycherley Fineen Wycherley in Munster training on Tuesday. Ben Brady / INPHO Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Wycherley, who in January made his own return from three months out with a shoulder injury, will soon face ferocious competition for a spot at lock, even in the absence of Tadgh Beirne whom Leamy noted will be a sore loss for Munster over the next couple of months.

Both coach and player pointed towards the in-form Scarlets’ specific threats in transition but Munster’s stocks outside of the second row have been suitably replenished this week in the shape of Jack Crowley, Joey Carbery, Roman Salanoa and Gavin Coombes, all of whom have been released to the province from international duty.

While Crowley enjoyed a positive cameo off the bench during Ireland’s victory over Italy in Rome and Carbery and Salanoa are, for the moment, further down the depth chart in their respective positions, many considered Coombes unfortunate not to have his formidable provincial form rewarded with a run-out of some sort in Rome.

The Skibbereen man, who turned 25 just before Christmas, scored a hat-trick against Ospreys last Friday week and has 11 tries in his 14 Munster appearances so far this season, including four in four in Europe.

gavin-coombes-is-presented-with-the-bkt-united-rugby-championship-player-of-the-match-award Gavin Coombes was named Player of the Match against Ospreys last week. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Coombes has taken his all-round game to a career-high level during Graham Rowntree’s maiden campaign as Munster boss and while this hasn’t yet materialised in his adding to his two international caps, defence coach Leamy believes that the West Cork man’s time in green will come if he continues to perform on his current trajectory.

“With Gavin, he’s in great form. He understands he needs to be patient. He’s working really hard on the aspects that he’s been given to work on. It’s just playing a patient game. We’re blessed with so many talented back rows in Irish rugby, and Gav understands that.

“It’s about putting together a body of work that’s strong. He’s improving in the contact areas and tackle, and how he moves. Gav is well up for that, he’s a really good learner, he’s applying himself really well. He’s just got to be patient.

“I honestly believe he’s got a big future ahead of them.”

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