Who will step up among Munster's rising stars this season?

Johann van Graan will be calling on some of the province’s rising stars during the new PRO14 campaign
Who will step up among Munster's rising stars this season?

Craig Casey is fast establishing himself as number two scrum-half behind Conor Murray. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

In the absence of seasoned internationals, Munster coach Johann van Graan will be calling on some of the province’s rising stars during the new PRO14 campaign. And Tadhg Beirne has been impressed with the young guns having trained with them for an extended period this summer.

"You do see some good talent out there, Liam Coombes is one of the fastest guys I've seen out there in a long time, he's been really showing up at training, and the three young lads at 10 - Ben (Healy), Jake (Flannery) and Jack (Crowley) - they're all playing really well and they're all really putting their hands up.

"From that perspective, those guys are really showing what they can do and even the Fours, Tom (Ahern) has really grown as a player for sure, calling lineouts and all that kind of thing.

"So it's a positive for Munster and it's great to see some younger lads starting to put their hand up, for sure.” 

So who are Munster’s next big things?

Thomas Ahern, 20

Position: Lock

From: Waterford

Apps: 0

Impressive athlete who was a star of the 2020 Under-20 Six Nations pre-lockdown, the 6ft 9ins lock looks set for a long spell in the Munster second row when his time comes.

Craig Casey, 21

Position: Scrum-half

From: Limerick

Apps: 10

Fast establishing himself as number two scrum-half behind Conor Murray, has impressed as an impact sub and looks comfortable setting a high tempo from the start.

Liam Coombes, 23

Position: Wing

From: Skibbereen, Co. Cork

Apps: 4

Promoted to a senior contract this summer, a try for Munster A at the weekend confirmed the good form the speedy winger has shown in training.

Jack Crowley, 20

Position: Fly-half

From: Bandon, Co. Cork

Apps: 0

Already with an AIL 1A season under his belt at 10, Cork Con’s Crowley was a standout of the Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam bid cut short by Covid-19 at the end of February. Now a first-year in the Munster academy.

Jake Flannery, 21

Position: Fly-half/full-back

From: Bansha, Tipperary

Apps: 1

A member of the 2019 Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20s, Flannery returned from shoulder surgery to make his senior debut off the bench against Zebre just before lockdown.

Ben Healy, 21

Position: Fly-half

From: Nenagh, Tipperary

Apps: 3

Put in a perfect goal-kicking performance on his first Munster start against Edinburgh last November and made European debut off the bench in January.

John Hodnett, 21

Position: Flanker

From: Rosscarbery, Co Cork

Apps: 2

Dynamic academy back-rower who came through the ranks via Clonakilty and UCC, van Graan this week said: “John Hodnett will definitely come close to our starting European team.”

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