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The Next Generation: Five Bright Prospects For Irish Rugby

The Next Generation: Five Bright Prospects For Irish Rugby
By Maurice Brosnan Updated
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Munster rugby's updated injury list was announced today with the news Tyler Bleyendaal is continuing to rehab his neck. It means the New Zealander will have missed the majority of the season for the third time in four years with the province. However, a positive for Munster fans came with the news out-half Bill Johnston has signed a two-year contract.

Irish rugby's future looks increasingly bright thanks to the relentless conveyer belt at Leinster as well the blossoming of Munster's new age with the likes of Sam Arnold and Rory Scannell stepping up and excelling this year. Ulster's dire season still has the sole positive of an electric Jacob Stockdale. Connacht were disappointed with only one club man making the Ireland U20s squad but have transitioned several academy prospects into the first team which could pay handsome dividends over the next few years.

A powerful wave of youth drove Irish rugby to success this season and there are several candidates behind them that could add to it in the coming year.

Bill Johnston

The Munster out-half is highly rated within the province and could be set for a big year next season. A question mark remains over Munster's out-half options with the lack of a calming presence one of many issues generated by last Sunday's Champions Cup loss. A Senior Cup star with Rockwell, successive shoulder injuries hampered his development but has all the attributes to be a quality out-half.

Conan O'Donnell 

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The Sligo and NUIG Prop signed a professional contract with Connacht earlier this year having impressed with the academy and Ireland U20s.  Has represented his country at two World Junior Championships. Made his Connacht debut this season in the Challenge Cup. O'Donnell has exceptional explosiveness and should prove to be perfect for the new generation of the prop.

Jack O'Sullivan 

Ireland's star player from the U20s Six Nations. What is all the more remarkable is this is the second time he could claim that label having starred during the 2017 Championships too. The Munster number eight has the step of a centre with the strength of a prop.  Looks destined to bolster Munster's already impressive back-row options.

Josh Murphy 

The academy back-row made his debut for Leinster this year. Murphy recently spoke about his admiration for Thierry Dusautoir, which is not to build loft expectations of the former St Michael's man but explains his approach to line-out work and high energy gameplan.  While he has made the breakthrough this year, the extraordinary back-row options at Leinster and Ireland mean he has incredible competition.

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Ronan Kelleher  

The hotshot of Irish underage rugby is more of a fourth back-row than a hooker. The younger brother of Connacht player Cian, Kelleher is an outstanding scrummager and impressed in this year's U20s Six Nations. The Landsdowne and Leinster man has been togging out with the 'A' side this season.

Honourable mentions: Calvin Nash (Munster) Nick Timoney (Ulster) Peter Claffey (Connacht)

SEE ALSO: An XV Of Irish Rugby's Greatest Imports

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