MUNSTER COACH ROB PENNEY believes second-row Donnacha Ryan is ready to be pitched straight into a Six Nations battle with England. Ryan came through his comeback game for his province on Saturday and is hoping to be in contention for Ireland’s visit to Twickenham on Saturday.
Ireland are currently well set in the second row, with Devin Toner and Paul O’Connell developing a strong partnership and the forwards dominating at lineout and maul time. Ryan was a reliable and feisty competitor in his country’s second row during last season’s Six Nations and is awaiting a training call from Ireland management.
Asked how he thought Ryan performed in the 36-8 victory over Zebre, Penny replied, “Terrific.” The Kiwi added, “He got around the park well and got the ball in his hands a few times. He’s not in his prime yet, but he’ll get there quickly. Obviously if the international boys need him, he’s ready to go now.”
While the return of Ryan to full fitness is an obvious bonus for Pro12 leaders Munster, they are looking sparse in the hooker department. Damien Varley and Mike Sherry remain on the injury list and he has been joined there by Adacemy hooker Duncan Casey.
Penney said, “I haven’t had a chance to catch up with anyone, but obviously [forward] Dave O’Callaghan didn’t look good when he came off, which is a real tragedy.
“We’ve got another issue with a hooker, Duncan Casey, who got a hematoma. There’s a couple of spots where we’re starting to get a little bit thin. We’ve got two away fixtures to Welsh sides, which are never easy. It’s going to really test us, short turnaround and travelling two weekends in a row. There’s going to be some challenges heading into this block.”
Academy and Young Munster hooker Ger Slattery scored two tries for his province against the Italians and may well earn a starting role for his teams’ next outing against Ospreys.
The Welsh side pummelled Treviso 75-7 today, with Sam Davies and Jonathan Spratt both crossing for doubles in the rout:
– Audio courtesy of Red FM’s Big Red Bench – You can follow them @BigRedBench