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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Flannery: Kidney behind Oz masterstroke

INJURED Ireland and Munster hooker Jerry Flannery has revealed who was behind the motivational masterstroke during last year's World Cup match against Australia.

Flannery, who tore his calf on the eve of the Pool C showdown with the Aussies, was asked by coach Declan Kidney to hand out the jerseys before the kick-off.

"Deccie asked me to do it and I said no problem but it wasn't scripted that I was going to come in and start bawling crying giving out the jerseys to my mates.

"Then when I was giving out the jerseys, it hit home and I got upset. I pulled it back together by the time I got to Cian (Healy) but it was emotional.

"Afterwards, I thanked Deccie for the honour and he said 'you going up there and showing what it means to you pulled down the guard for everyone else'.

"Looking back it was so clever out of Deccie, a real example of knowing what you are doing."

Meanwhile, Flannery, who has been forced to watch his province's progress from the sidelines as he continues his recovery, believes the fact that Munster are not being talked up is working in their favour.

The Pro12 bonus-point win over Treviso last Saturday gives Tony McGahan's side momentum heading into their final two pool matches.

"No one is going, 'Munster have this thing wrapped up', even with four wins from four," said the hooker. "People are saying, 'Munster have had a good start but we are still not sure about them', which is a good place for us.



Criticism

"We take some criticism every year and most of the time it is deserved, but we have to look at the bigger picture. It has been a fantastic start and there are so many younger guys coming in."

Flannery is particularly encouraged by the development of the younger players under McGahan and expects big things in the coming years from the likes of Peter O'Mahony and Simon Zebo.

One of the major factors in Munster's steady progress this season has been the scrum platform anchored on the technique and power of tight-head BJ Botha. Flannery believes Botha brings a great deal to the squad.

"The interesting thing is seeing these guys you rate up close and BJ backs up his ability with hard work," he said.

Developing youngsters is an issue Flannery feels strongly about, and he believes using ex-professionals to pass on their knowledge at underage level would produce players with a more diverse skill-set.

That is the broader picture, but this week's narrow focus is on Castres.

"To a degree, we are still under the radar and it is good for us, it keeps everyone humble," he concluded.

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