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Wallabies In Sight For Youthful Munster

Wallabies In Sight For Youthful Munster

Two years ago, players like Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Niall Ronan and Billy Holland stepped up to the mark as Munster came agonisingly close to a prized win over New Zealand. The province’s head coach Tony McGahan will demand a similar effort when Australia visit Thomond Park next Tuesday.

Alan Quinlan (36) and Doug Howlett (32) are the elder statesmen of a Munster squad that is laced with Academy and fringe players, who will undoubtedly relish the chance to test themselves against the touring Wallabies.

Tony McGahan’s 30-man panel for next Tuesday’s game is dominated by promising youngsters. Among them are hooker Mike Sherry and versatile back Ivan Dineen, who were both recent try scorers in the Magners League.

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New prop Peter Borlase, who arrives from Wellington today (Thursday), will be keen to get a runout at Thomond Park, while fellow New Zealander Sam Tuitupou is back from suspension.

Meanwhile, the fit-again Barry Murphy is set to make his seasonal bow for Munster, after showing good form for UL Bohemians in recent weeks.

Memories of that night in November 2008 when some Munster magic had the All Blacks on the brink of a shock defeat are still fresh in the mind. Another high octane display like that is exactly what McGahan will want from his young guns next week.

“There are a number of young men who played that night (against New Zealand) who brought a lot of credit to Munster Rugby but also to themselves, and we’ll be looking for similar performances,” he explained.

“They might need time to apply what they’ve learned and that can come in many forms, such as tactical or core skills, but the biggest thing is confidence.

“A lot of the young guys who played that evening have really kicked on and you gather a lot from being in that sort of environment playing. It might not all be present immediately, but certainly down the track those things come to the fore.”

Ankle, back and hamstring injuries have prevented Barry Murphy from playing for Munster since September of last year. It has been a long road back for the Limerick man, but it is a journey he has learnt a lot from.

“I never for a minute thought my career was over. It was very frustrating but I knew it was going to come right,” admitted Murphy.

“I came back in April for a game with UL Bohs and lasted four minutes. I went over on my ankle again.

“That was a pretty low point but there are a lot of inspiring people around who have also gone through tough times…you see what Jerry Flannery and Paul O’Connell have to go through.

“I’ve been working with those guys every day, having lunch and chatting, keeping each other in high spirits. When you’ve got people like that around it makes it a lot easier.

“I firmly believe that these experiences stand to you and while I might have missed a lot of rugby, I still learnt a lot in the year.

“Tuesday is my first chance to prove to the management that I am still a force to be reckoned with. I just need game-time.”

Murphy scored a try in that 18-16 defeat to the All Blacks – the only try Graham Henry’s side conceded on their Grand Slam tour – and has fond memories of the occasion.

“It was an incredible night and I’ll never forget it. It was unbelievable – the build-up, the history, the crowd, the atmosphere.

“We have a lot of connections with New Zealand and even travelled there as a family. Every Kiwi who came to Limerick for the first 15 years in my life seemed to stop off at our house for a couple of weeks.”

McGahan is obviously pleased to have Murphy back fit and available, with the 27-year-old centre/winger adding his experience to a relatively young backs division for this game.

“Barry has been an integral part of Munster Rugby for a long period. He has struggled for continuity of games and training time and that’s tough.

“So full credit to Barry and his determination to play for Munster,” he added.

MUNSTER Squad (v Australia) – Backs (14): Duncan Williams, Paul Warwick, Conor Murray, Declan Cusack, JJ Hanrahan, Tom Gleeson, Barry Murphy, Sam Tuitupou, Ivan Dineen, Doug Howlett, Simon Zebo, Sean Scanlon, Denis Hurley, Scott Deasy.

Forwards (16): Mike Sherry, Sean Henry, Wian du Preez, Peter Borlase, Dave Ryan, Stephen Archer, Dave Foley, Ian Nagle, Brian Hayes, Billy Holland, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, Paddy Butler.