Belfast Telegraph

Ryan will aim to haunt Munster on his return

Donnacha Ryan
Donnacha Ryan

By Cian Tracey

It is not a coincidence that Racing 92's lineout defence has become one of the best in Europe since Donnacha Ryan joined the Parisian club.

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A diligent student of the set-piece, Ryan's doggedness has clearly rubbed off on his new team-mates, and even without Leone Nakarawa, Racing have the ability to mix it with the best.

When Munster played the French side in the 2017-18 Champions Cup semi-finals, there was a real fear that Ryan's inside track on the Munster lineout would spook his home province.

His presence alone was enough to do so and, as the Tipperary native gets set to play at Thomond Park for the first time since leaving in 2017, Munster will again be on red alert tomorrow night.

They have a new-look lock pairing in Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne, and with the latter calling the lineout, he will be hoping to out-smart Ryan.

"I think the lads said that his work ethic and his knowledge around lineout and all that kind of stuff is second to none, and he's definitely probably changed that for Racing and put his mark on it," Beirne says of Ryan.

"So credit to him, and I'm sure he'll still remember a lot about the Munster lineout, so it's going to be important to manipulate it a little bit against them.

"I think their lineout defence is one of the most impressive I've seen in a long time. They seem to disrupt a lot of lineouts, not just in the Champions Cup but also in the Top 14, so that's definitely one of their strongest points and an area that we will have a massive focus on.

"Then they have individuals that can turn something out of nothing and that's something we have to stay alive for."

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