Column: The Munster second row ready to rock this season’s URC
Academy graduate Edwin Edogbo has excelled for United Rugby Championship holders Munster in the opening weeks of the new season.
The 20-year-old lock made his senior debut for the provincial outfit only 14 months ago but has rarely looked out of place in that short space of time.
The rising star broke into the team last season with exceptional performances against the likes of the then-champions the Bulls and South Africa’s ‘A’ side.
Edogbo had made such an impression in the first half of last season that he was offered a three-year contract in January, which will see him become a senior squad member from the beginning of next season.
The Cork native has been a fiend at the breakdown for Graham Rowntree’s men and been a constant thorn in the side of Munster’s first opponents of the season, starting in the season opener against the Sharks.
Edogbo got that occasion off to a wonderful start by being the first player to cross the whitewash and set the URC champions on their way to a bonus point win at Thomond Park over their newfound domestic rivals.
Edwin Edogbo of Munster celebrates after his side's victory over Connacht in the United Rugby Championship at Thomond Park tonight!
— sportsfile (@sportsfile) November 26, 2022
Second row sensation Edogbo.
The first Cobh Pirate to enter Munster’s academy has started all subsequent games so far in the campaign at loosehead lock while first-choice Jean Kleyn became a World Champion with South Africa.
His three turnovers won in four games is the joint-second on the charts for the champions thus far this season, behind hooker Diarmuid Barron and alongside newcomer Alex Nankivell and fellow tight five star John Hodnett.
Edogbo was one of Munster’s finest players in their tough away draw to Benetton in the second gameweek, winning two turnovers on the day as his side came from behind to earn their points.
The youngster’s defensive prowess goes beyond this, with 24 tackles to his name so far this season and a 96% success rate to compliment that figure.
On top of being such an asset off the ball, the 6’5, 122 kg forward has cut a threatening figure with the ball-in-hand across his four games this season.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) October 21, 2023
Edogbo has beaten eight defenders from just 31 carries so far this season, according to the URC’s stats, achieving this feat every 3.8 on average and beating twice as many players as Munster’s number one ball carrier Gavin Coombes in this timeframe.
The Corkonian has also been a solid presence in the Munster lineout since breaking into the side last season.
A poor second half from the team on a cold Friday night in Belfast last time to interprovincial rivals Ulster has bruised Munster’s otherwise strong start to the new campaign but Edogbo still remains one of their strongest aspects of it.
The globe-conquering Kleyn will be set to return from his international escapades soon and take what he has rightfully earned with his offerings in previous seasons.
But with his countryman RG Snyman out once more, Cobh’s swashbuckling sensation will have earned second chair for the near future with his own.
Furthermore, with his future stamped with a red seal and others who don the number four still uncertain of theirs, Edogbo may be at the beginning of a fruitful time in his home province.