Former Munster winger Johne Murphy thought that Josh Wycherley did well to bounce back from his first half difficulties in Munster’s away victory over Clermont.
Munster overcame a 19-point first half deficit to beat Clermont-Auvergne 39-31 in the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday.
Key to the comeback victory was 21-year-old prop Josh Wycherley, who started in his first Heineken Champions Cup game against the experienced French prop, Rabah Slimani.
Despite an early annihilation in the first scrum of the match, Wycherley bounced back to end up dominating not only at the scrum, but throughout the park.
“I think the resilience shown there was huge,” Murphy said. “Obviously [he would have had] a lot of nerves going up against a real wily old front rower.”
Being one his side's top tacklers on the night, Wycherley was all over the pitch, not just the anchor to the scrum.
“What I loved about it was it wasn’t just scrum time, he grew into the game at scrum time, but it was also his defensive efforts and his double efforts,” Murphy said.
“He was responsible for two turnovers; Peter O’Mahony gets in over the ball once, he had a double action there.
“The tackle before that he comes in over the top, gets a real positive action to drive someone back, and then the next phase he is back in line [to make the] chop tackle for Peter O’Mahony to get over the ball.
“He had those positive actions the whole way through the game.
“He never took a backwards step, which, for a young player given what happened in the first scrum of the game, is massive.
“He will only grow from that experience, and it puts him in a good spot to move forward.”
The ability of Johann van Graan’s men to fight their way back into the match will also serve to improve the greater squad, according to Murphy.
“The most important thing is for them to grow on evenings like this,” Murphy said.
“I think the possibilities for this Munster side are really good in terms of where they can get to, particularly when all their injuries come back.
“This transition period, for lack of a better word, is giving those guys the opportunity [to grow].
“When everybody is back fully fit, there is no problem now if James Cronin comes back in the future, Josh, you are in.
“What that does is it keeps all those other front rowers [on their toes].
“Now there are three European standard loosehead props [in the team], because they are proven to a point.”
The future is bright in Munster
Murphy believes that the emergence of Wycherley in his current form is an example of the young talent that Munster have nurtured this season.
He suggested that, along with the other young players in Munster, Wycherley could help the province build towards silverware.
“Josh, in his first start, went to a European cauldron that not many people come away from with the credit that he has,” Murphy said.
“It creates massive competition within the group, it builds the squad out past the greater number of 32-35, and that is when they start winning stuff.
“The injuries, which you are going to get come the end of the season, don’t necessarily matter like they have done over the last couple of years.”
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