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Van Graan confident Sam Arnold can continue solving 'puzzles' for Munster's midfield

Chris Farrell’s absence will give the 22-year-old another big stage to perform on this weekend.

Arnold makes a break against Castres.
Arnold makes a break against Castres.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

WITH CHRIS FARRELL sidelined, the importance of his fellow ex-Ulster centre Sam Arnold becomes a little more clear for Munster.

Arnold, 22, stepped into the starting line-up for Sunday’s win over Castres when Farrell pulled up with a thigh injury in the warm-up.

The newest Ireland international acquitted himself well in the circumstances, but looks set to get a proper run at preparation for the return meeting with the French champions on Saturday.

Arnold’s explosive physicality makes it easy to forget his relatively tender years and inexperience.Injury severely limited his match minutes to 100 during Rassie Erasmus’ stewardship. 

Johann van Graan’s arrival as head coach coincided with a change of fortune for the Surrey native, and the South African is confident the centre can shine in tough conditions again.

“Last year that first Leicester game at home was his first big game at Thomond Park.

“I think he has really developed and has become comfortable now within the team and the fact that he got his first international cap, he brings a certain amount of calmness.

Ireland’s Munster players Joey Carbery, Niall Scannell, Sam Arnold, Tadhg Beirne, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Conway and John Ryan after the match Arnold and the Munster contingent after the November win over the USA. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“He will be the first to admit that he has such a long way to go, I think he is so glad that he got his Test, but for him, now it is now cementing his place in that 13 jersey because obviously there is fierce competition within our squad.”

With Sammy specifically I think he is working on the small puzzles of his game so much.

“Mentally, for him to slot straight in from the bench, start a game and deliver that kind of performance, I am really happy for him.”

Van Graan hopes the opposite emotion is not required for Farrell, meanwhile.

The ex-Grenoble man powered back after a long recovery from a ruptured ACL and seemed set to provide a devastating element to the Munster attack for the back-to-back fixtures. The head coach is hopeful that the prognosis for Farrell’s thigh will be a positive one after further assessment yesterday.

“He won’t make this weekend. I don’t think it is serious, (as) in a lot of weeks, but it is still pretty early to say, but I foresee him to be not available for a bit of time.”

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