FIVE talking points from Munster’s excellent opening day win away to Scarlets in Guinness Pro12.
1. MAN OF THE MATCH
TOMMY O’Donnell might have missed out on Ireland’s summer tour to South Africa due to his wedding, but he hit the ground running for Munster, turning in a Man of the Match display in their excellent win over Scarlets.
O’Donnell’s defence was superb all though, while the powerful back rower made some good yardage with his carries.
Match stats showed that O’Donnell made a whopping 14 tackles during the 80 minutes, while he didn’t miss a single tackle. The UL-Bohs clubman also made nine carries.
2. NUMBER 10 ROLE
WITH the unfortunate Johnny Holland forced to retire prior to the start of the season due to a serious hamstring injury, much of the focus before kick-off on Saturday was on the performance of New Zealand out-half Tyler Bleyendaal.
The Kiwi, who played just five times for Munster last season, due to a troubling quad muscle injury, impressed in the first competitive game of the season.
The playmaker also kicked 10 points for good measure.
3. HOME GROWN
FOURTEEN of Munster’s starting XV on Saturday were products of the Munster development pathway.
Three players made their PRO12 debuts in Munster’s first competitive win at Parc y Scarlets since 2011. Academy players Dan Goggin and Brian Scott made their first appearances, with Young Munster clubman Goggin included in the starting line-up.
South African Jean Kleyn, who arrived at Munster during the summer, made his debut off the replacements bench.
4. ZEBO INJURY
THE only drawback after a good day's work for Munster on Saturday was a rib injury that forced Simon Zebo out of the action.
Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus expects him to miss next Friday night's Musgrave Park meeting with Cardiff Blues.
“At this stage he’s a bit sore," said Erasmus. "In my experience if a guy comes off with ribs there’s not a good chance he’ll be playing the next game.
"I haven’t seen the scans, I’ll listen to what the doctor and physios say but I think if a guy comes off with ribs it must be pretty sore. It would be pretty incredible if he plays next week.”
5. HIGH PERFORMANCE
MUNSTER’S impressive new €9.5 million High Performance Centre at UL opened today, Monday.
Located adjacent to the existing UL Arena, the centre will also house the Greencore Munster Academy and North Munster Domestic game operations, while Munster Rugby administration and South Munster Domestic Game operations will continue to be based in Cork.
The new facility will include weight rooms, medical and physiotherapy treatment rooms, offices, audio visual suites, meeting rooms and a 50-seater lecture theatre.
6. WINNING FANS BACK
WHEN he took up his new post earlier this summer, Munster’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus insisted the only way the province could expect to welcome significantly more supporters through the turnstiles was to win games.
This victory against the Scarlets at a daunting venue like Parc y Scarlets should help boost the attendane at Friday’s visit of Cardiff to Cork.