Saturday 17 August 2019

Wycherley's a new breed of animal

Pro 14 League: Dragons v Munster, Live TG4/eir Sport 1 (KO3.0)

Fineen Wycherley garnered high praise for his performance against Leinster
Fineen Wycherley garnered high praise for his performance against Leinster

When Munster mangled Leinster at Christmas, Ronan O'Gara was prompted to tweet out that Munster had found a new breed of animal in their young buck Fineen Wycherley.

"It was Ronan O'Gara, this fella you've always looked up to," said the Bantry man, on The Crooked Feed podcast this week.

"It was a special moment getting a mention from him. At the same time, you've got to get on with it.

"If you dwell on those performances, it messes up your next week. You've got to park it."

You would have to surmise O'Gara was impressed with the way Wycherley exploded into the Inter-provincial derby with that hit on Jonathan Sexton.

Heck, the whole culture of Munster rugby in O'Gara's time was founded on taking the fight forward and showing utter contempt for opponents, especially those in the blue of Leinster.

Fellow forward Donncha O'Callaghan has been quick to throw Wycherley's name out there as just the type of physical force Munster need right now.

This week, Wycherley will travel to Rodney Parade, no place for the feint-hearted.

"When the Irish lads are away in camp, it is a massive opportunity for myself and others to get a chance," he said.

The often injured Tyler Belyendaal will lead this band of men from centre with experienced back-up from scrum-half Alby Mathewson.

The rise of Joey Carbery has come at the cost of the progress of the talented Bill Johnston, a diminutive, exquisite ball-playing ten.

Johnston will need a front-foot service from a pack of forwards with a strong spine in Rhys Marshall, Simon Archer, Jean Kleyn and Arno Botha.

There has been a lot of speculation about Mike Haley's impact and how the full-back probably most resembles Rob Kearney in his style of play.

He will have to be solid this afternoon and communicate well with the men just ahead of him in Dan Goggin, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O'Mahony.

The Dragons can turn into a real handful at home when allowed to establish their game plan and play the bully boys.

There is nothing they thrive on more than the odd rousing, one-off win over someone like Munster.

That is unlikely to happen.

Dragons: J Williams; J Rosser, T Morgan, J Dixon, W Talbot-Davies, J Lewis, R Williams; B Harris, R Hibbard (capt), L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, H Keddie, N Cudd, O Griffiths.

Replacements: R Lawrence, R Fawcett, D Suter, L Evans, T Basham; R Davies, J Tovey, Z Kirchner.

Munster: M Haley; D Sweetnam, D Goggin, T Bleyendaal (capt), R O'Mahony; B Johnston, A Mathewson; J Loughman, R Marshall, S Archer, J Kleyn, B Holland, F Wycherley, C Oliver, A Botha.

Replacements: K O'Byrne, L O'Connor, C Parker, D O'Shea, G Coombes; N Cronin, C Nash, J Taute.

Verdict: Munster.

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