How Munster could line out after confirmation of fourth major signing
We have not come close to finishing the 2019/20 season and teams are already taking shape for 2020/21.
There are some serious changes afoot down in Limerick. Munster Rugby have confirmed the departure of two more members of their senior squad and the capture of promising Leinster tighthead Roman Salanoa.
Centre Sammy Arnold and flanker Conor Oliver are off to Connacht, the southern province today announced. Connacht have also been boosted by the signings of Leinster forwards Oisín Dowling and Jack Aungier. You read that right - Leinster have lost three more top young talents in the space of two quick press releases from their inter-provincial foes.
Roman Salanoa would have been aware that he would be trying to force out both Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong to wear the No.3 for Leinster. With the IRFU keen to spread the rugby talent across the province's, Salanoa looked elsewhere and found Connacht more than eager to secure his services. Hearing that the Hawaiian prop could be prised away from Clonskeagh, Munster made enquiries and got their man.
"If that is the case," Andrew Trimble said on House of Rugby, "it's tough enough on Connacht. They've done all the hard work and then Munster have stepped in."
Over the weekend, Munster did confirm that South African back-row Arno Botha was returning home, to sign with the Blue Bulls. Botha has played 43 times for Munster and was their top try-scorer this season when the Covid-19 pandemic forced an elongated break. Talks are ongoing about how the 2019/20 can be completed - if at all - when rugby is given the all-clear to resume.
Munster have previously announced the signings of Saracens' versatile back Matt Gallagher and the South Africa duo of RG Snyman and Damian De Allende. Former Munster and Springboks centre Jean De Villiers was gushing about the pair during his recent House of Rugby appearance. He commented:
"RG has got unbelievable skills too. I'm sure the guys weren't that big when we were playing. People are just getting bigger. He's a massive human being but with an unbelievable skill level for a lock forward.
"And Damian, who I played a lot of rugby with when I was at the Stormers, I thought he had a fantastic World Cup and, yeah, two very good signings for Munster."
With those four signings, and three departures, in mind, we had a look at how Munster could line up in 2020/21. This is not necessarily their strongest side, per se, but how Munster could accommodate all four players into their starting XV next season.
MUNSTER XV (2020/21)
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Jack O'Donoghue, Craig Casey, Rory Scannell, Mike Haley.
We have a ways to go before rugby returns to the sporting calendar, and even longer still when fans are able to head along to games.
Once both of those get the green light, Munster fans will have a very strong side to cheer on at Thomond Park, and beyond.
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