herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Team player Ryan is eager to leave on a high

Munster’s Donncha Ryan
Munster’s Donncha Ryan

The personal milestones are always lost in the translation from what is best for the individual to what is best for the team.

That has been ingrained in Munster men for as long as Peter Clohessy and John Hayes were boys.

You could call it a cultural legacy or, simply, a virtue of the province they are from.

Doing the work has always been enough for the likes of Donnacha Ryan. The second row has never been one of those to put himself first when it comes to the collective.

He is not about to start on the occasion of his 167th cap for the shirt he has played in throughout his career.

For all intents and purposes, he is the last of the Munster breed of old-school soldiers.

The Nenagh man was patient enough to wait his turn at Munster in behind the venerable Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan and Mick O'Driscoll.

It was where he learned the best way forward is often the shortest way.

Style

Substance always overrides style in that part of the world, even on the rugby catwalk of Thomond Park.

It has all led up to what O'Connell never had, a chance to go out on a high, a chance to lift a trophy more convincingly than his team-mates tried to lift him last Saturday.

The experience Ryan can bring to bear on the Scarlets will be crucial.

For Munster have not won on their last three visits to the Aviva between the losses to Saracens and Leinster (twice).

"Scarlets did a tremendous job on Leinster and they did a job on us at home a couple of months ago," he warned.

The 33 year-old has given up his claim on the red and green shirts on what he considers a point of principle.

Whatever about the merits of the IRFU's decision not to offer Ryan a national contract, he has earned the right to a rewarding rebirth in France.

The question is: will he go there with the regret of letting this one slip away or with the warm glow of going out a champion?

The collective power of those he has influenced should ensure it won't be for lack of motivation for the ultimate team man.

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