"Thomas Ahern is going to be the new Paul O'Connell, in my opinion" 3 months ago

"Thomas Ahern is going to be the new Paul O'Connell, in my opinion"

"He'll have a 100 caps for Munster in no time."

Thomas Ahern has only started seven of his 23 senior appearances for Munster, but he has already shown enough for supporters of the province, and beyond that scope, to map out a long rugby career.

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The Waterford native made his senior debut against Dragons in November 2020, and built on his seven first team outings in 2020/21 with 13 appearances last season. Ahern was called up for the Emerging Ireland squad, having already been asked in to train under Andy Farrell, and his presence on that mini tour to South Africa restricted him to just two sub appearances before Saturday's league clash with Leinster.

After 29- and 11-minute stints off the Munster bench, Ahern went the full 80 against Leinster - who alternated with Jason Jenkins, James Ryan and Ross Molony - in their lock positions, and he acquitted himself well.

On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 28:00 below], Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Ian McKinley discussed the rapid development of Thomas Ahern, and his potential for great deeds with Munster and Ireland.

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Thomas Ahern Thomas Ahern, centre, of Emerging Ireland celebrates with his Man of the Match award, following a win over Cheetahs, in Bloemfontein. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Sportsfile)

Greg O'Shea and Lindsay Peat on Thomas Ahern

Every Munster supporter will be keenly aware of it being 11 years, and counting, since they last lifted a major trophy.

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Former captain Paul O'Connell led Munster to a league final, against Glasgow, in 2015 but he could not lead his province to a title in his final game.

Graham Rowntree has taken over as head coach of a team with undoubted potential, and young talents, allied with some very handy experienced pros, but the squad still looks to have real strength in depth. For Lindsay Peat, Rowntree should persevere on the road he is on - blooding young players and starting them in big games. The former Leinster star has earmarked Thomas Ahern as a player to help lead the way.

"We said this last week - Munster will always punch. They'll always stay in the fight. But there were two things for me. The young guys need to stay in.

"Thomas Ahern, I saw his reaction to winning a scrum penalty, and he just gets up, roaring. He's just a beast of a man. You can see those positive signs, but I think these young lads just need that consistency.

"The injuries might give them that chance, and they'll have the likes of Peter O'Mahony, Tadhg Beirne, Gavin Coombes heading into that Irish camp. They do need something different, though, too. It can't only be that fight. Leinster are able to mix it up - we saw that by them bringing in the likes of Scott Penny and Max Deegan, who have come on at a rate of knots, playing in their system.

"It's up to Graham Rowntree to back them, and blood them. Like, Tom Ahern is going to be the new Paul O'Connell, in my opinion."

Thomas Ahern is 22 and will get more experience of mixing it with the country's best and brightest talents as he trains with the Ireland 'A' squad for their game against and All Blacks XV, on November 4.

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Peat, Greg O'Shea and Ian McKinley were not sugar-coating it about the size of the task facing Munster, this season. However, with lads like Gavin Coombes, Thomas Ahern, Craig Casey and even new-er comers Paddy Campbell and Ruadhan Quinn, there are reasons to be hopeful.

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