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24th Feb 2023

Former Munster player makes Super Rugby debut

Rory Fleming

The prop joins the exclusive club of Ireland internationals to have played Super Rugby.

Former Munster Rugby player John Ryan made his Super Rugby debut on Friday, as the Waikato Chiefs kicked off their season in style against defending champions Crusaders.

The game in Christchurch contained heaps of the quintessential flair which the mere utterance of the words Super Rugby espouses within the sport’s diehard fans, as Ryan’s Chiefs side ran out surprising victors on a scoreline of 31-10.

The Canterbury Crusaders are the dominant force in Super Rugby.

Crusaders are the traditional powerhouse of domestic rugby within New Zealand, and are in search of a fifth-successive Super Rugby title. However, a dominant display on the road from head coach Clayton McMillan’s Chiefs side will instil hope around the competition that their era of dominance can finally be disrupted.

The 24-time-capped Irish tighthead snatched at the unique opportunity of continuing his career on New Zealand’s north island, following the conclusion of his short-term deal at Munster. With former club Wasps entering severe financial difficulties, Ryan returned to his home province on a three month contract in October of last year.

However, upon Stephen Archer’s return from an ankle injury, and with Ryan’s services no longer required, he jumped at the chance to travel to the Southern Hemisphere, saying that “It’s an exciting challenge that myself and my family are very much looking forward to. The Chiefs are a top-class team and I look forward to adding what I can to their vision and goals for the season ahead”.

Having replaced teammate George Dyer in the 63rd minute of the Chiefs barnstorming performance, the Cork-born prop finds himself in the rather select club of Irish internationals who have played Super Rugby, with the most notable prior to Ryan’s debut being former Ireland and Leinster full back Rob Kearney.

The encounter between the Crusaders and Chiefs was also the first chance rugby fans had to witness new laws being trialled in the competition whereby the TMO has a further 8 minutes after an incident to analyse the referee’s on-field decision, with the power to potentially upgrade the sanction.

Ryan and his Waikato Chiefs side will look to build on their opening day blitzing of their conference rivals, as they travel to Melbourne to face Moana Pasifika next weekend, seeking to build momentum in their quest for a first Super Rugby title since 2013.

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