Munster have announced another small number of contract extensions and renewals with Alby Mathewson signing another extension to see out the current year with Munster. Keynan Knox has signed a long term deal to move from an academy deal to a three year deal from next year. Sean O Connor has signed on for a further year on a development deal, Tyler Bleyendaal has signed on for two years with Ciaran Parker moving to a full time deal for next year.
Munster have been clever in getting there squad in shape for season 2019/2020. The retention of both Parker and Knox is interesting , tight head prop has been an issue for Munster since John Hayes retired and both guys were signed by ex Munster boss Rassie Erasmus and will continue to develop in the AIL , Munster A and the Munster senior side.
BJ Botha was signed in 2011 and went on to make the number 3 shirt his own with competition from Stephen Archer. The one issue people may look to is that both these players are not native to Ireland having learned there trade in South Africa and England respectively.
Both men will need to get past Stephen Archer and John Ryan even though John Ryan could be away with Ireland at the World Cup in Japan at the beginning of next season and in that instance both men may see game time early next season.
The Munster squad is now a real mixture of home grown talent ala Tommy O Donnell , Jack O Donohue , JJ Harahan then you have other players who learned there trade in Leinster like Conway and Carbery and then there guys like Bleyendaal , Marshall and Alby Mathewson who have come in to ply their trade with Munster in the professional game.
The romantics will say Munster are losing touch with the grassroots and the amount of non home grown players is growing by the year and getting bigger as the years go on but that is professional sport and also Munster may not just be producing the quality of player in certain positions at the moment that is required.
The one thing that can’t be denied is Munster are doing their utmost to put a competitive squad in place and look to be continuing the work started with those 12 contracts announced back in November. The work of the Munster academy will need to step up and seeing a player like Craig Casey pushing on with the Ireland 20s is a good sign for the future.
The signing of Nick Mc Carthy on a two year deal may signal the end of the road for Duncan Williams and with Craig Casey pushing on Jack Stafford the current academy 9 may be looking anxiously over his shoulder in the rear view mirror at the progress Craig Casey is making. Only time will tell though about the future of both men.
Munster are now well stocked at half back with Mc Carthy ,Murray ,Casey in place for next year and the two men who will benefit from Conor Murray’s absence will be Mc Carthy ,Casey. At out half , Munster will have Joey Carbery , JJ Harahan , Tyler Bleyendaal , Bill Johnston so Munster should be in a strong place next season.
With a World Cup at the beginning of next season , we may just see some of that young talent in the Munster ranks from the opening week of the new season…….