Johann van Graan impressed by humility of new recruits Damian de Allende and RG Snyman

The Munster coach says the fanfare that greeted the newly-minted world champions is not misplaced
Johann van Graan impressed by humility of new recruits Damian de Allende and RG Snyman

It's the talents RG Snyman and Damian de Allende can bring to the table that will most excite and Johann van Graan reeled off a long list of them to whet the appetite.

Their talent is all too apparent to a coach who knows them as well as Johann van Graan. Their credentials as World Cup winners are impeccable also but what convinces the head coach that Damian de Allende and RG Snyman can be a success in red is the Springbok duo’s ability to fit right in at Munster.

As the province today completes its first block of training since the return from Covid-19 lockdown, van Graan has already seen enough of his fellow South Africans to determine the fanfare that greeted the newly-minted world champions is not misplaced.

The former South Africa assistant coach has known Snyman since he was aged 13, a schoolboy already with the physique of a man and he worked with the lock at both the Bulls, the national U20s, and the Test squad.

The relationship with centre de Allende started with the Boks and it is clear van Graan values his signings as much for their qualities as people as their exceptional rugby talents.

"It's important to note that both of them, they're not superstars. They're normal, down to earth guys who will fit very well with Munster,” van Graan said yesterday.

"They're part of a bigger squad, they know of the ambitions of the clubs and the dreams of this team. They're fascinating individuals and that's the most important thing. They're coming to add to what we have at Munster and they are buying into the way we do things at Munster.”

Van Graan added: “We stated we wanted to keep the Munsterness of Munster, but also add to that, and we’ve got two World Cup winners coming in. They have won a Rugby Championship together with a World Cup. Roman (Salanoa) has been part of a very successful Leinster team and Matt (Gallagher)’s been part of a very successful Saracens team. So that’s giving us more Championship-winning experience.”

As welcome as that endorsement will be to Munster supporters, it is the talents Snyman, 25, and de Allende, 28, can bring to the table that will most excite and van Graan reeled off a long list of them to whet the appetite when the province resumes its Guinness PRO14 campaign with a derby against Leinster on the weekend of August 22-23.

"I've known RG for a long time, the important thing to note about him is that he's a different rugby player. He's different to your normal lock. He's versatile. He's one of the quickest locks I've seen.

"His offloading skills are incredible and signing him, he's very different to the general type of forward we have in terms of his offloading ability.

"You've got to have balance in the back, so he'll certainly give us some of that offloading ability because of his length. He's a phenomenal athlete in terms of what he can do, I just think he's got potential to be one of the very best rugby players in the world.

"He's a lot to learn, he's not the finished product yet. That was part of the talks to get him across, in terms of his lineout calling, his defensive game. He's only in his early 20s.

"He appreciates the fact a lot of hard work lies ahead of him as well. He came to Munster to be better, to become better.

"Damian, he's one of those players, he played international rugby at inside centre, outside centre, and on the wing.

"He's a very good kicker of the ball, a phenomenal passer. He went through some difficult times in his career, some ups and downs. That's the beauty of world-class players, they're not always at the top of their game.

"But I think he's at an age now where he can contribute to our team.”

Regarding existing star power, Van Graan was unable to give a definite return date for Joey Carbery’s return from injury as he did with Tadhg Beirne, set to rejoin squad training on July 27 after an ankle fracture last December and should be available to face Leinster. Carbery is rehabbing following ankle and wrist surgeries.

“The timeline is pretty much somewhere in September.”

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