Johann van Graan: 'Neil Cronin living the dream at Munster'

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent


Johann van Graan: 'Neil Cronin living the dream at Munster'

Munster scrum-half Neil Cronin, who scored a try in their bonus point Guinness PRO14 victory over the Southern Kings on Friday night

MUNSTER head coach Johann van Graan said try-scoring scrum-half Neil Cronin is ‘living the dream’ in his second stint with the province.

Cronin bagged his first senior try for Munster in his side’s 43-0 thumping of the ill-disciplined Southern Kings at a ‘sold-out’ Musgrave Park on Friday night.

Cronin was rewarded with a Munster contract this season for his high level of consistency in the All-Ireland League with Garryowen.

Van Graan revealed that a couple of players had caught Munster’s eye while playing in the AIL this season.

Van Graan said: “Yeah, it was nice that ‘Neilly’ scored that try and he’s such a hungry lad.

“Every week, he is in my office, wants to play, wants to learn how he can get better and improve and that is the beauty of club rugby.

“He’s living the dream a lot of club players dream, he’s a living example of, if you want something really bad and work hard there is an opportunity for you especially in Munster.

“We cast our net out wide, not only through the Academy, but looking at club rugby. I won’t mention one or two names but a few guys have played really well over the past few weeks.

“We’re looking and maybe if someone can force their way why not? It’s a different path, but there is a path for you.”

Munster face a seven-day turnaround before locking horns with Conference A rivals, the Ospreys, in another key PRO14 fixture on Friday night.

Despite being without several frontline Ireland stars currently involved in the Six Nations championship, Van Graan says competition remains keen at Munster for starting places for the upcoming PRO14 fixtures.

“The nice thing about playing on a Friday night, especially if you win, is that you have the Saturday and Sunday to watch the other teams, so we’ll take our time and see what comes out on the injury front and see what we’ve got available for next week.

“The good thing is we discussed our plan for this three weeks with the squad so you might see quite a few changes.

“There’s Bill Johnston, there’s Duncan Williams, there’s Jaco Taute, Ronan O’Mahony, Calvin Nash and that’s only the backs and in the forwards you have guys like Kevin O’Byrne that is really waiting for his chance.

“Jack O’Donoghue is back, Conor Oliver, so we are going to rotate our squad accordingly over the next few weeks.”

Van Graan indicated that the fit-again Jack O’Donoghue would be in the Munster squad for Friday night’s trip to Wales.