Versatility is one of Rory Scannell’s greatest assets, given his ability to play comfortably in different positions across a rugby back line.
Last year, the 21-year-old played four matches for Munster in the British and Irish Cup, two each at full-back and out-half.
Fast forward to last weekend and he was named in the centre for the province’s Guinness Pro12 opener against Treviso at Musgrave Park.
Alongside another youngster — David Johnston — Scannell won praise from head coach Anthony Foley and quickly found favour with the fans for some dynamic breaks and one particularly effective head-on tackle on one of the big Italian runners.
The former U20 international, a member of the successful Emerging Ireland squad at the Tbilisi Cup this summer, is clearly one for the future and he hopes that the coming weeks will provide him with more opportunities to showcase his talents.
He’s happy with his personal progress and looking forward to getting more game time under his belt starting this Sunday against Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
“I got a few run-outs last year. I was looking to build over the pre-season and that went well. It was good to get a run-out on Saturday and there were a few younger lads who got their first starts and hopefully there will be more games to come.
“With the World Cup, I might get a run of games in. I am taking it week by week and trying to build on my performances and hopefully now I will put my hand up for selection this week.”
Having learned valuable lessons from the likes of legends like Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan, Scannell accepts it is now time for some of the new crop to make their mark and help the evolution process. “These (senior) guys ordered you around the park and that is exactly what the young lads want, but I think it is time now that a few of the younger lads stood up, especially during this period while the experienced guys are away.
“The average age at the weekend was a lot younger than it was last year, so we’re looking for those younger guys to step up to the plate.”
More game time, he feels sure, will help that process - that seems to work from a personal point of view at any rate. “I am happy enough with how I am going so far, but you are always looking to get better.
“The run of games will help, I think you saw that last season with Jack (O’Donoghue). He played 10 or 11 games in the Pro12 and he has pushed on massively.”
Competition for places will intensify in the coming weeks, but Scannell was delighted to have been given an opportunity to partner Johnston last week. “It was a new partnership at this level and it was Davy’s first day out, so I am delighted he went so well. We played a lot together over the past two seasons with the As and stuff.
“We would have that bond and we chat away throughout the game. We are very comfortable, both in defence and attack, so we were very happy with how it went at the weekend.”
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