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Greencore Munster Rugby Academy Update | May 2021

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It has been a busy past month for the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy.

Ian Costello was appointed to the role of Academy Manager in April and will return to the province in the summer having worked in England for the past five years with Nottingham and then Wasps. See full details here.

We can confirm that former Munster player Andi Kyriacou also rejoins the province as Elite Player Development Officer (Forwards). Andi has previously coached at Cardiff Blues, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Ben Healy made a further two appearances for the senior side over the past month and has now featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games so far this season.

There have been 43 senior appearances for Academy players across the Guinness PRO14, Champions Cup and Rainbow Cup in the 2020/21 campaign.

Academy trio Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips have been training with the Ireland 7s team and have been named in their squad for this weekend’s International Rugby 7s tournament. See full details here.

On the injury front, Eoin O’Connor (knee), John Hodnett (achilles), James French (hamstring), Jonathan Wren (hamstring), Cian Hurley (thumb), Scott Buckley (knee) and Thomas Ahern (knee) are continuing to rehab.

We spoke to the Academy’s Lead Physiotherapist, Shane Malone (above), for the latest update.

Current Academy crop…

“We all want to see the lads do well because we see on a daily basis how hard they work. They are exceptionally dedicated and just a really good group of characters.

“It’s great to see the nine guys [who are moving up to the senior squad next year] rewarded for their hard work and getting the opportunity to prove themselves at pro level.”

Jack Crowley, Alex Kendellen and Conor Phillips involved with the Ireland 7s…

“It’s a great opportunity for guys to go up and prove themselves and gain a different skillset. They also have the opportunity to experience a different high performance environment.

“For our point of view, it’s been seamless because we have a very good relationship with the IRFU physios. We speak about the players that are involved on a weekly basis.”

Helping players to recover from long-term injuries…

“If you take John Hodnett’s injury as an example, the surgery on an Achilles rupture happens within a few days. Obviously with a severe injury like that you want to get as good a start as possible to get him back playing rugby as quickly and safely as possible.

“We gave John a bit of time away from the HPC to recuperate afterwards and leave everything settle down but we’re involved from day dot where we ring him at home to make sure he’s doing all the swelling management and all the acute care correctly.

“When he came back in here, it was full throttle from then on.

“It’s another opportunity for guys when they are injured to concentrate on other areas and John is developing his upper and lower body and he’s flying with that.

“He’s a young player so all that rehab and all that strength work is going to stand to him later in his career.”

Working with the sub-Academy players…

“Myself and Lorcan Kavanagh are the Academy physios. Lorcan also works with the sub-Academy/National Talent Squad group so we look after them if they pick up injuries.

“Academy staff look after how the sub-Academy players are developing from an athletic development point of view and also an injury prevention point of view as well.

“By the time lads get into the Academy, we usually have a very good idea of where they’re at and what they need to work on. It’s a real advantage for us to have that information as opposed to starting from scratch when they join the Academy, it’s really important.”

Greencore Munster Rugby Academy

Fifteen players commenced the 2020/21 season with two additional players, Cian Hurley and Conor Phillips, joining in January 2021. See the full Academy squad here.

Nine players from the current group will advance to senior contracts ahead of the 2021/22 season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Jake Flannery, James French, Seán French, Ben Healy, John Hodnett and Josh Wycherley.

Eoghan Clarke has completed his time with the academy and linked up with Championship side Jersey Reds at the end of March.

Seven academy players made their Guinness PRO14 debuts this season – Thomas Ahern, Jack Crowley, Jack Daly, Seán French, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen and Josh Wycherley. Young prop Wycherley also made his Champions Cup debut this season.

Out-half Ben Healy leads the way with senior appearances on the Academy front this season having featured in 16 of Munster’s 22 games, scoring 77 points.

66% – The future continues to be bright with an expected highest representation of academy graduates in over eight years in the squad next season.

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Dragons confirm signature of Ulster star

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(Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts will officially become a Dragon after signing a long-term deal with the Men of Gwent.

The front row ace – currently part of the Wales squad for the upcoming Six Nations – will join the region this summer from Irish province Ulster Rugby.

Roberts made his international debut for Wales against South Africa in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series.  

The 26-year-old heads back to Wales having previously spent a season with RGC in the Welsh Premiership and will look to continue his eye-catching development with Dean Ryan’s men.

“We’re really pleased that Bradley will join us and that he sees Dragons as the right environment for him to keep improving,” said Dean Ryan, Director of Dragons Rugby.

“Bradley obviously has international aspirations, as he makes the return to Wales, and we look forward to him competing for selection from next season.” 

Roberts said: “I’m really excited by the challenge ahead of me. It’s a new opportunity and, after only a few seasons at this level, I’m determined to keep moving forward.

“I spoke to Dean about the Dragons and it’s a young group that are building for the future. I’m eager to add to that and be a part of that journey.

“The move to Dragons means I can also keep pushing to be part of the Wales set-up. I’ve only just started with that, and I want to add to those experiences.

“I’m looking forward to linking up with the Dragons, but for now my focus remains on Ulster, the next few months with Wales and a strong end to this season.”

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Roberts to leave Dragons & join Aussie Super Rugby franchise

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Dragons Rugby can today announce that centre Jamie Roberts will leave the region for personal reasons at the end of this month.

Roberts joined the Men of Gwent in August 2020 and has made 23 appearances in all competitions, scoring five tries.

The Wales and British & Irish Lions ace has been granted early release from his contract to move to Australia to join his Sydney-born partner, who is expecting their second child in March.

Dean Ryan, Director of Dragons Rugby, said: “We thank Jamie for his time at Dragons and the support he has given us; helping stabilise the environment and encouraging youngsters to come through.

“We fully support what has been a difficult decision for him to make. We wish him a safe trip over to Australia and look forward to welcoming him and his family back to Rodney Parade in the years to come.”

Roberts has thanked the region for understanding his request to move overseas and paid tribute to the Rodney Parade supporters for their support during his time at Dragons.

“It is with a heavy heart that I’m leaving the Dragons at the end of the month. I’d like to personally thank Dean for understanding my personal circumstances,” he said.

“As my Sydney-born partner is expecting our second child in March, we feel the best decision for our family is to be surrounded by her support network in Sydney during this period.

“Although it’ll be difficult leaving, I do so with many fond memories,” he added. 

“As well as enjoying wearing the jersey and playing, I’ve taken great satisfaction in supporting and witnessing the growth and development of many younger players in the squad, many of whom are no doubt destined for success in the game.

“It’s been great fun playing back at Rodney Parade, where my parents took me as a young lad growing up to watch the Black and Ambers. 

“Although supporters haven’t been able to attend as much as they’d have liked, for obvious reasons, I’d like to thank them for their support. 

“The club is nothing without its supporters, and I hope that moving forwards, the playing group can give fans lots to cheer about from the terraces.

“I wish the coaching and playing group nothing but the very best moving forward.”

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Munster confirm another coaching departure

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Munster Rugby Defence Coach JP Ferreira will depart the province at the end of the current season.

Ferreira, who joined the province in December 2017, will join Johann van Graan in making the move to Premiership outfit Bath Rugby.

JP Ferreira said, “This has not been an easy decision to make as my family and I have thoroughly enjoyed our life in Limerick and are part of a very close-knit community.

“I have been in this role for five seasons and during this time I have enjoyed every minute of coaching at this incredible club.

“The experience I have gained and the friendships that I have made along the way will forever stay with me. The way Munster Rugby opened their arms to my family and I throughout my tenure has been outstanding and we are forever grateful to everyone that has made this journey memorable and possible.

“On a personal note, as a family with young children we have an opportunity to experience a different environment and new challenges and we feel this move is the right next step for us.

“I’m very proud of what this group has achieved, and I’m excited for the months ahead as we remain focused on the task at hand, committed to delivering success with this group of players and staff.”

Source – Munster Rugby

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