Rugby

Munster's Josh Wycherley Removed The Souls Of Some Very Experienced Rugby Players Last Night

Munster's Josh Wycherley Removed The Souls Of Some Very Experienced Rugby Players Last Night

Munster loose head Josh Wycherley endured a baptism of fire in his maiden start in Europe for Munster last night.

In his first Champions Cup start, the 21-year-old from Bantry found himself up scrummaging against the French tight head Rabah Slimani. The Clermont prop is one of the most fearsome scrummagers on this planet, and has 57 France caps to his name. Wycherley, fresh out of the Munster academy, learned that firsthand in the first half when he was literally driven above the scrum, and onto Peter O'Mahony's shoulders. This looks incredibly dangerous. For a prop, it must be soul destroying.

But what was so encouraging was how Wycherley responded. Rather than shrink, he stood up to Slimani. By the second half, Wycherley had fully imposed himself on the match, just as Munster began to battle back from a 28-9 first half deficit. Now it was Slimani who was being battered and bruised.

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The face of Slimani in the 45th minute of his match told you everything you needed to know about going to war with Josh Wycherley. He'd be subbed off ten minutes later.

Wycherley brought hell to Clermont for 75 minutes, and only exited proceedings once the result was certain. The Clermont frontrow must have been delighted to see that Munster plane head back to Shannon after the match.

In his postmatch comments, Munster coach Johann van Grann singled out Wycherley for his epic performance.

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'That’s the stuff dreams are made of, to start your first European game in Clermont against Slimani, one of the best scrummagers in the world.

'To come up with that performance is exceptional and I’m so happy for him.

'It’s a whole team effort but when I phone Josh on Thursday evening and told him he was starting, I asked if he was ready and he said, ‘coach I’m ready to go’. It’s about backing our squad and we certainly did.'

Meanwhile, Munster players and fans watching at home lavished him with praise.

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After being dominated by Leinster for years, Munster hope that the rugged West Cork contingent who steered Ireland to a U20 Grand Slam in 2019 will help shift the fortunes of the province. Last night's result - and Wycherley's inspirational role in it - will build the foundations of faith.

Donny Mahoney
Article written by
Donny Mahoney is Chief Sportswriter and one of the founders of Balls.ie

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