Dan Goggin could easily have fallen between the cracks as he recovered from long-term injury while Munster transitioned from one boss to the next last season.
Yet since his return from the serious knee problem, the Limerick centre has forced his way into Johann van Graan’s mind as a go-to presence in midfield.
With the head coach adopting a horses for courses selection policy in midfield and Chris Farrell and Jaco Taute on the way back from lengthy injury absences, Goggin, 23, has found himself in a rotation this season with Sammy Arnold and Rory Scannell.
Playing at both inside and outside centre, he has started four of Munster’s six games this season, scoring two tries in the 13 jersey against Ulster at Thomond Park and then last weekend at 12 as van Graan’s choice to take the charge to Leinster in the PRO14 derby at Aviva Stadium.
The boss was impressed with his performance and delighted that Goggin is taking his opportunity to fulfil the potential the incoming South African spotted on succeeding Rassie Erasmus.
“When I arrived here last year, obviously you don’t know all the players, especially the guys that were injured and he was injured when I arrived. I watched some footage and there was one clip I remembered against Connacht at home two years back and he made a read that led to a try,” van Graan said of Goggin. “I saw there was something about this guy.
“He came back last year and scored that tremendous try against the Kings and played the next weekend. He was kind of on the brink all the time and he’s just really attacked this pre-season. I thought he played really well in the pre-season games and he built into the season and I believe he’s ready for a massive step up.
“His basics are solid, he’s running is so hard and is getting us over the gainline. He’s a very good distributor of the ball, his defence is solid, he steals at the breakdown and he’s worked so much on his decision-making and communication skills.
“That’s what you want to see from a player. Another Munster homegrown player that’s developed and hopefully now he can take it to the next level.”
Goggin is certainly in the head coach’s thoughts for this Saturday’s trip to Exeter Chiefs for the opening pool game in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup and the academy product also received a ringing endorsement from wing Keith Earls.
“Yeah, he has been brilliant,” Earls said. “He works hard, he is a big physical man. He has been given an exposure to sevens and his passing game has come on massively because of sevens and he is taking his chances. It is great for him and for us, to have another Limerick man coming through.”
Van Graan would clearly like to broaden his midfield options with the returns of Taute and Farrell but for now he is satisfied with the three players at his disposal and the different plus-points they bring to Munster.
“We wanted something specific against Leinster and I really thought we got it. Certain players have certain strengths. Rory’s got a left foot, is almost your second decision maker around your team. Certain teams have got brilliant defence and you’ve got to, you know, where you put your money and we decided in the 10-12 channel we’ve got to get momentum and I thought we really did.
“There was one carry by Dan that I specifically remember. He believes he scored that try there in the right-hand corner when we were awarded a scrum, so to answer the question I think it’s different for each week. If there’s not a lot really between the players you sometimes just go with your gut. We’re lucky to have three guys in pretty good form at this stage.
“We’d love to have Chris Farrell back in the future as well and also Jaco Taute. Currently we’ve got those three centres available and I think they’ve been doing well over the last few weeks.”