Penney 'to be a hit' at Munster
RUGBY:CASEY LAULALA believes new Munster coach Rob Penney can transfer the success he enjoyed in New Zealand to his new role with the two-time European champions.
Laulala played under Penney for seven seasons at Canterbury, during which they enjoyed huge success before the centre moved to Cardiff Blues.
And while Laulala was signed by the Tony McGahan coaching team, Laulala was delighted to link up with Penney again.
“It is just his positivity in all thoughts. Being with him in Canterbury, we had so much success with him. We always won the title or were runners-up, we always did well,” said the 30-year-old ex-New Zealand international.
“It is true I was excited, but I was more excited for the players here, that they were able to have that positive vibe going through the whole team. I don’t know what it was like here before, but I do know that Rob will add so much value to this team because he added so much value to my rugby career.”
Tomorrow night in Musgrave Park will see Laulala and fellow centre and new signing James Downey line out together for the first time in a pre-season friendly against Bristol. But the Samoan-born flyer has warned against early expectations being to high.
“You definitely have to play together in order to know the different traits each other has. Obviously James is a big boy and he can look after himself down that close channel and hopefully I can run off him and vice versa. It is an exciting time for myself and my family and I am looking froward to a good season.
“It comes down to personal pride as well. Thirteen is my position, I have played part-time 12 and part-time wing, but 13 is my primary position.
“For me to come here and play 13 is obviously massive. I just want to do well for myself and hopefully in that way I can contribute to the team and really solidify my position and be able to move forward from there.”
But Laulala might not have it all his own way at outside centre as Irish international Keith Earls has indicated his wish to feature there on numerous occasions. But Penney is keen to avoid any headaches and hopes to keep everyone happy.
“In my discussions with Keith, we’ve got the ability to manage his needs and the team’s needs. Look, he’s a dedicated, committed team person. He’s made it very clear what his preference is and I respect that immensely,” said Penney.
“What we’ll endeavour to do is meet a majority of his needs within what the team needs are and hopefully he can just embrace that and get on and play for this team as well as he can so that he can further his international aspirations down the track.”