Munster's Jean Kleyn in training this week ahead of his side's meeting with Exeter
JEAN Kleyn insists that when he moved from South Africa to Munster two years ago he did so with the intention of spending a decade playing rugby in Ireland.
Kleyn recently signed a new three-year deal with Munster and the talismanic second row is Irish qualified next September.
Just in time for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
But while he would love the opportunity to follow in the foot stops of another South African born team mate at Munster, CJ Stander, and pull on the green of Ireland, Kleyn says his focus now is to concentrate fully on his club duties.
Kleyn said: “(Signing new contract) It gives you that sense of security that you can just go forward and play rugby as best as you can. There's no stress.
“You could probably argue that it takes a bit of the pressure away, but that's not true because there's still so much competition within the squad.
So, it's brilliant for me. I'm very happy to have signed another three year deal, it's brilliant.”
Asked about his Ireland ambitions, Kleyn said: “I have to play a full season of really good rugby with Munster before I can achieve that at all.
“I've been asked that question a few times, I say it all the time, I'm here to play for Munster until otherwise.
“My mind is here on Exeter this weekend, then onto Gloucester next weekend. That's as far as my thoughts go at the moment.
“I said it when I moved over a couple of years ago, I wasn't moving over with the aspirations of moving back, I was moving over knowing my career would probably be here for the next 10 years and hopefully I can achieve that.”
Twenty five-year-old Kleyn believes Munster have progressed in the past 12 months.
“I think we've grown a lot as a team in terms of our team culture, relationships, stuff like that.
“We're stronger within the team, we've got great depth in the team as well. It's all going to pay off from this weekend onwards.
“We got a taste of it this weekend (against Leinster), we played pretty well, made a few crucial errors in their '22 which ultimately cost us the game.
“You can make excuses all you want, but it was the mistakes we made that cost us against Leinster.
“I think we are growing into it, getting better every week and we'll hit our stride this week and hopefully there'll be no stopping us.”
Munster kick-off their Heineken Champions Cup campaign with an away date against high-flying Exeter Chiefs.
The Chiefs have won each of their opening six Premiership fixtures.
Jean Kleyn said: “They have conceded the least amount of tries and they have scored the most tries, so they’re very good side.
“On the day, I think it’s going to come down to physically dominating them between the four white lines, that’s probably where a lot of games are win.
“We would love to do that, but it’s about discipline as well. They look for you, when they defend a lot of phases, they want you to cough it up, to make a mistake and also their attack they will attack and attack and attack and wait for you to make a mistake.”
Kleyn says the atmosphere changes in the Munster squad in European weeks.
“When I showed up here a few years ago, it was the first European Cup week and everyone was like, ‘you’ll see it’s different’. I was like ‘it’s just another competition’ but there is a tangible feeling around the place.
“More is expected on a European Cup week. When you show up for training you know your details, it’s just one of those things at training, everyone is more hyped, more intense, really up for it.”