Pro 12: Munster Rugby Season Preview

Head Coach: Anthony Foley
Captain: Peter O’Mahony
Position 2013/2014: 3rd
Stadium: Thomond Park

Munster Rugby Season Preview: 

It’s a big year for Munster and especially newly installed Head Coach Anthony Foley. Foley’s name is synonymous with all things Munster and has now got the chance to show his coaching credentials at the top level. He has also installed a coaching team exclusively from the province in former players Mick O’Driscoll, Jerry Flannery and Brian Walsh, plus Ian Costello is promoted.

Munster have not made major signings in the off season but have added some functional players rather than star names. Robin Copeland has great potential and was Cardiff Blues’ outstanding player over the past two seasons. Tyler Bleyendaal can play both out half and inside centre while Andrew Smith is comfortable at outside centre and on the wing.

Both starting centres from last season, James Downey and Casey Lualala have moved on to pastures new and this will see Munster have a change of tactic in midfield for the upcoming season. In JJ Hanrahan, Ian Keatley and Bleyendaal, the Red Army have three players comfortable at out half and inside centre. Bleyendaal’s signing in particular suggests that Munster will employ a passing game rather than the crash ball play of Downey. They still have that option with Ivan Dineen and Denis Hurley but it’s unlikely.

Lualala’s move to Racing Metro has also opened the door for Keith Earls to return to his favoured position of outside centre. Earls needs a big season. He has endured a torturous, injury ravaged couple of years and if he manages to stay fit he could also solve the outside centre berth for Ireland.

One of the facets that worked very well under Rob Penney was the scrum. Jerry Flannery has taken over in that area and with the help and experience of BJ Botha, Munster will hope that the scrum will remain.

Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony are of course key to the pack and Munster are a force to be recognised when they are included in the starting lineup. CJ Stander had a great second half of last season and Sean Dougall also impressed. Expect Munster to give the Guinness Pro 12 a rattle this term and finish top of the league stage.

Players In:

Martin Kelly (Prop) from Dublin University

Eusebio Guinazu (Hooker) from Bath

Shane Buckley (Back Row) from Academy

Robin Copeland (Back Row) from Cardiff Blues

Jonathan Holland (Out Half) from Academy

Tyler Bleyendaal (Out Half/Centre) from Crusaders

Andrew Smith (Centre/Wing) from Brumbies

 

Players Out:

Quentin MacDonald (Hooker) to Chiefs

James Coughlan (Back Row) to Pau

Ian Nagle (Second Row) Released

James Downey (Centre) to Glasgow Warriors

Casey Laulala (Centre) to Racing Métro

Niall Ronan Retired

 

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