Munster boss rejects ‘crude’ view they chose between ‘world-class’ Springboks locks

Colin Newboult
Springboks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman celebrate victory in the International match South Africa vs New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium.

Springboks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman celebrate victory in the South Africa vs New Zealand match at Twickenham.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree insisted that a number of factors were taken into consideration when negotiating with locks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman.

When Snyman was signed in 2020, their other South African-born lock, Jean Kleyn, was an Ireland international.

However, following Andy Farrell’s refusal to reward his good form for Munster with a recall, the Springboks took advantage of the altered World Rugby eligibility laws.

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber duly called up Kleyn ahead of the Rugby Championship and he would go on to play a part in their Rugby World Cup triumph.

Letting one of them go

As a result, he was no longer Irish-qualified (NIQ) and it was likely that the Limerick-based outfit would have to let one of him or Snyman move on to pastures new.

There were concerns at one stage that both would be departing at the end of the season, but the Munstermen managed to tie down Kleyn for a further two years.

In the same statement, the province also announced that his Bok team-mate would be leaving for an as yet unknown destination following the conclusion of the 2023/24 campaign.

Some have claimed that for Munster it was simply a case of choosing between who they wanted to keep, but Rowntree rejected that idea.

“That’s a bit crude, to look at it like that. We knew it was going to be a challenge to keep both of them,” he told reporters.

“We thought it was going to initially be a challenge to keep Kleyn when he decided to play for the Boks.

“Luckily we’ve got two world-class locks for the rest of the season when RG does come back but, no, it has ended up as it is.”

Snyman’s injury

As Rowntree intimated, Snyman is currently out of action following surgery on a shoulder/chest injury picked up during the World Cup.

According to the Munster boss, March is when he is likely to be back, which is a blow for him and the province.

Some might have suggested that it played a part in his departure but, as the head coach explained, various factors were taken into account.

“There are many implications, there is a budget implication, NIQ implication, and we have some great young locks coming through and the IRFU quite rightly want us to bring them through,” he added.

“There’s a lot gone into the melting pot and it has turned out like it has. I wish RG all the best wherever he goes. He’s been a brilliant acquisition for us, just a good fella.

“He’s in the leadership group, he has been good around the group. He had some dark days, a double ACL injury, he was desperately wanting to help the club.”

READ MORE: Munster provide worrying injury update on Springboks lock RG Snyman