“I’m trying to be a sponge around them, especially Alby,” smiled Junior World Cup hero Craig Casey as he discussed his first few weeks as a fully-fledged member of the Munster senior squad.
The 20-year old nephew of former Munster wing Mossie Lawler performed so impressively in Argentina at the base of the Irish scrum, that Leinster head coach Leo Cullen came calling, leaving Munster’s Johan van Graan with no option but to ensure an outstanding and popular talent remained at home.
Casey was referring to former All Black scrum-half and still ‘part-time’ member of the Munster squad, Alby Mathewson, whose experience and knowledge he regards as priceless.
“I learn so much from Alby and the other scrum-halves who have also been really helpful, Neilly (Cronin), Jack Stafford, and Nick McCarthy (recently arrived from Leinster).
“I try to take the best things from all the great nines, Murr, Alby, and then two small nines, Aaron Smith and Faf de Klerk, that I want to play like.
“Getting that contract offer from Munster was something you dream of. I remember Thomond Park from the age of four when I was Munster mascot with Axel (the late Munster captain and coach Anthony Foley). Now I’m trying to make the best of it over the next few weeks and hopefully drive on.”
Casey doesn’t intend to allow his smaller-than-usual modern-day rugby physique to hinder his prospects.
“I don’t see my size as a drawback,” he insisted.
“I work on my technique maybe more than the others. I haven’t been running through people at underage and had to tackle low so I wouldn’t be picked on my size anyway, it’s more about zipping around the pitch and getting rid of the ball quickly.”