Upstart Craig Casey’s shades of World Cup winner

Munster defence coach JP Ferreira is the first to acknowledge that Faf de Klerk and Craig Casey are at contrasting points in their careers but he can think of nobody better than the World Cup winner for the young Limerick scrum-half to follow.

Upstart Craig Casey’s shades of World Cup winner

Munster defence coach JP Ferreira is the first to acknowledge that Faf de Klerk and Craig Casey are at contrasting points in their careers but he can think of nobody better than the World Cup winner for the young Limerick scrum-half to follow.

Casey, who made a huge impression in his first start for Munster in their 19-14 win over Connacht on Saturday, has previously name-checked the Springbok as a role model and Ferreira can see similarities between the two.

“They are the same height, first one. They are both left-footers. There are similarities in that. And they have both got big hearts. So, delighted that Craig got a good start on the weekend and he came through the game really well.”

Ferreira, busy preparing for Saturday’s latest showdown against old rivals Leinster, said they do not have to adjust their system to accommodate a smaller scrum-half such as Irish U20 Grand Slam winner Casey, who is 5’5”.

The 20-year old Shannon clubman showed on Saturday he is ready to step up to the big time and Ferreira said he just slotted right into their system.

Conor Murray, at 6’2”, is more indicative of the tall scrum-halves who emerged in the professional era but Ferreira said Casey, too can go all the way and is picking a great role model in de Klerk. Ferreira said that, while acknowledging one is a World Cup winner and the other is just in the cusp of his senior career, there are similarities between the two.

“And no, the height of the scrum-half doesn’t alter anything. With those small scrum-halves come big hearts. Craig has got a massive heart. Craig will be looking at footage in the World Cup of Faf de Klerk and seeing a small guy make big hits.

“He is one of those guys, he is not scared, he won’t stand back to anybody. The opponent might be 2.05m tall, he will still hit him. He has got a massive heart. And I won’t don’t change anything for any particular person,” said Ferreira as Munster prepare to renew hostilities with Leinster.

There is every chance that Nick McCarthy might get the nod for scrum-half on Saturday against his native province as Johaan van Graan freshens up his side for the second of the festive derbies.

The likes of CJ Stander and Chris Farrell, both superb against Connacht, will have to be rested but Ferreira said they have plenty of leaders ready to step forward and take charge against Leinster.

“We have got senior guys in the group that can step up on that front, that have led us really well in the past. And it is going to be exactly the same this weekend. They are going to lead us from the front again, those senior guys.

“They are definitely not going to take a step back. Billy Holland, Jack O’Donoghue — just name them. Stephen Archer, he doesn’t say much but he shows a lot.”

He said it will be great to have Joey Carbery back for the game, presuming the out-half continues his recovery and is good to go when the squad links up on St Stephen’s Day.

Carbery’s only appearance for Munster since last March was in the 24-9 PRO14 semi-final loss to Leinster in May but he’s now on track to make his first appearance of the season against his former side.

“He came through bits of training last week, Thursday, and he is up in Irish camp at the moment. We will only get him on Thursday again this week and see where we he is at.

“If he comes through training then hopefully he will be up for it. It would be brilliant to have him back,” said Ferreira.

Flanker Gavin Coombes is going through the HIA protocols after being injured early in the win over Connacht and it remains to be seen if he will be fit for the 26,267 capacity crowd at Thomond Park on Saturday.

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