Johann van Graan: Munster’s re-signing of 12 players is ‘brilliant’
Renewed contracts come ahead of Champions Cup meetings with old foes Castres
Munster head coach Johann van Graan: “The fact that 12 guys decided to stay at Munster – and you look at the quality of the 12 guys – that’s hugely important for the club moving forward.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Johann van Graan has hailed Munster’s re-signing of a dozen players as evidence of the province’s progress, prior to Sunday’s first of their pivotal back-to-back Heineken Champions Cup meetings with old foes and French champions Castres at Thomond Park (kick-off 1pm).
Tight-head John Ryan has signed a new three-year deal, while Niall and Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam, Jack O’Donoghue, JJ Hanrahan, Alex Wootton, Rhys Marshall, Fineen Wycherley and Calvin Nash have put pen to paper for a further two years. Arno Botha and Jeremy Loughman, who was added to their Champions Cup squad in place of the injured James Cronin, have signed one-year deals.
Van Graan’s first game as Munster’s head coach was just over a year ago in a 36-19 win away to Zebre in the Pro14 on November 26th, 2017.
“I said first time last year when I met the players as a group I said you have to always, always, always be yourself, fit into the team and we as a team want to take the club forward and I believe we have done so over the last year and it’s brilliant to have 12 guys deciding stay on.”
He did admit that there remain “a few contracts still outstanding and guys we would like to get on to this train”, but for the most part the front-liners are all signed up already.
“Guys will stay at Munster if they are happy and they believe in the way we are going,” said van Graan. “The fact that 12 guys decided to stay at Munster – and you look at the quality of the 12 guys – that’s hugely important for the club moving forward.”