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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019
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Scannell and Carbery settling into a rhythm to ignite Munster attack

The centre played most of his youth rugby as an out-half and knows how to bring the best conditions for Carbery.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THERE’S BEEN A hint of the revolving door around Munster’s star names this season.

International windows play their part, they always do, but injuries seemed particularly ill-timed for the southern province as Chris Farrell and Conor Murray’s long-term absences kept them as ships in the night for the rest of Johann van Graan’s backs.

Last week, the South African found himself in the position to select what would appear his first choice back-line for the first time. The results were devastating.

While Joey Carbery’s brilliant performance inevitably grabbed most attention, the presence of Rory Scannell as a link between Farrell’s power and the out-half’s smooth, elusive running was critical to the attacking game.

On top of acting as an additional playmaker, Scannell is using his own experience as a number 10 to provide the best conditions for Carbery to work in.

“I liked to get good communications from the guys outside me and that’s what I am trying to do for Joey,” says the Corkman.

“I try to tell him where the space is and when he knows where that space is, he is more than likely going to be able to take it. I try to give as many options as I can, left and right foot in the middle of the field.

“He’s playing unbelievable rugby. He had a disappointing day in Castres but since then he is playing some of the best rugby of his career.”

The upturn, Scannell points out, comes thanks to more consistent availability of the primary attacking threats both in training and come matchday.

“Joey’s been away in the autumn with Ireland so it’s getting those couple of games in a row together, it’s definitely important. It’s getting those last couple of games together. It was good to get out in the last two European games together. When you start playing with guys more, you start to get more comfortable.

“It’s been hard because it’s such a competitive squad and lads have gotten opportunities, and Chris is only just back as well so the three of us haven’t played a whole lot together but I’ve enjoyed the last couple of games and hopefully it will be the same this weekend.”

After Scannell touched on that ‘disappointing’ day in Castres for Carbery – when the Athy man was off target with a tricky late penalty that could have won the game – he quickly highlights the reaction to that day. 17 straight successful attempts off the tee, two tries and, most importantly, three impressive wins for Munster.

“It’s hard sometimes to bounce back from things like that, but I was very impressed with Joey. On the Monday (after Castres), he just put it all behind him and really focused on the following (task). Then he just went straight out and trained like he normally does. He’s been working hard on his kicking as well and that really showed in the last couple of weeks.”

Chris Farrell Farrell in training at UL this week. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The man on the other side of Scannell has made a serious impact on Munster’s attacking fortunes too, of course, with the gainlines, offload ability and sometimes the sheer presence of Farrell creating crucial space for team-mates and an attack which had come under fire. No coincidence that Munster have recorded bonus point wins on all three of Farrell’s starts this season. It’s past time Thomond Park got a look at him.

“When you have a threat like that outside you, he tends to take the defenders away from me which is great. His communication on the field is vital, he is always giving you options and with Joey there too it is all combining nicely and you could see that on Friday night.”

“(Attack) was a bit of a work-on from last season and probably where we let ourselves down in the later part of the season. It’s definitely getting better in the last number of weeks. You’ve guys coming back to full fitness which helps. Joey Carbery is slotting in nicely. Chris Farrell is fully fit and back in the mix which is massive for us. I think we’re playing some good rugby at the moment and it is an important time of the year to be doing it.”

Important is under-selling it a little. There’s a European quarter-final on the line.

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Sean Farrell

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