Wood, O’Gara, Foley, Howlett. None of the aforementioned names would ever find themselves on this list of Munster players that failed to fulfil their potential. Here is the Obscure XV.
1 -Martin Cahill aka ‘The General’
The 18-stone Prop made 18 appearances for the Red Army across three seasons, including two in the Heineken Cup. He was included in an Irish training camp in the summer of 2002 and won a Celtic League with Munster in 2002-03, before being released in 2004.
2 – Andy Kyriacou
The Liverpool-born Ireland A international came to Munster during the 2006-07 season, as injury cover from English club Saracens. He also played for Sale Sharks, Leeds Tykes and Ulster Rugby as recently as 2012, when he moved to the Cardiff Blues.
3 – Gordon McIlwham
The 16-times capped Scottish international spent two seasons at Munster, making 39 appearances. His robust, direct approach to carrying the ball made him popular amongst the Munster support. He also represented Glasgow Hawks, who later became the Warriors, as well as Bordeaux Begles.
4 – David Pusey
The former Australian underage international arrived at Thomond Park in 2003 following three seasons at the ACT Brumbies. He went on to represent the Western Force until 2009, after leaving Munster in 2005, where he played an integral role in the franchises early years before seeing his opportunities curtailed.
5 – Chris Wyatt
The former Llanelli Scarlet played professionally until the age of 39, finishing up his career at USAP 84. His involvement with Munster only lasted a single season, where he made 12 appearances in the Celtic League. The stalwart earned 38 caps for Wales, his last cap coming in the 2003 World Cup.
6 – Stephen Keogh
Another player in this XV to have represented both Leinster and Munster during his career. Keogh was an abrasive blindside in the Munster mould. Like O’Sullivan, he was victim to the existing strength of the Munster back-row, limiting his first-team opportunities.
He made 53 appearances for Munster before moving onto Leinster in 2006. This was following the disappointment of missing out on the 22 man squad which beat Biarritz 23-19 in Munster’s maiden Heineken Cup victory. Despite a strong season, the return of Alan Quinlan from injury saw Keogh dropped.
7 – John O’Sullivan
The aggressive, hard-hitting openside flanker played for Munster between 2005 and 2009, largely as cover for players such as David Wallace. A player which would have no doubt been much more successful were it not for the quality of the Munster back-row during his spell at the club.
Having previously played for Connacht, where he was voted player of the season in 2003-04, he ended his career at French side Agen, where former Munster hooker Denis Fogarty currently plays.
8 – Nick Williams
A name known well in Irish circles due to Williams’ dominant performances for Ulster since 2012 but, his 2 year spell with Munster was less than successful. The former Junior All Black signed for Munster from the Auckland Blues in 2008 with much expectation placed on the 120kg No.8.
He delivered on his debut, scoring a hat-trick off the back of a ruthless Munster scrum against the Newport-Gwent Dragons. His debut form seemed to be a once off in the red shirt, in which he never really delivered.
9 – Brian O’Meara
The Cork native was capped nine times by Ireland during his career, which saw him represent both Munster and Leinster. He is possibly Ireland’s must successful World Cup player ever, having a 100% win record in his two bench appearances in 1999.
10 – Eoghan Hickey
The exciting pivot only spent one season at Munster, amassing ten Celtic League appearances in that time, before moving on to London Irish, Worcester, London Wasps, Petrarca Padova and now R.C. Massy Essonne. His early promise at Leinster never really came to fruition, rather showing sporadic sparks of his ability.
11 – Gary Connolly
The former rugby league international represented Ireland, England, Great Britain and a Rest of the World XV during his career, moving to Munster in 2005 in the final year of his career. The Centre/Wing made 15 appearances for Munster, scoring two tries in a Celtic League match against Connacht. Although not a name most Rugby fans will remember, he started four Heineken cup games for Munster during their infamous 2005-06 campaign.
12 – Jason Jones-Hughes
The three times capped Welsh international did not enjoy a successful stint at Munster, failing to break into the first team regularly. He had shown promise in his youth, being capped by Wales at the age of 23. This was the source of much controversy as Jones-Hughes had toured with Australia in 1997 but, was not capped.
The IRB eventually ruled on the infamous ‘Granny-gate’ scandal, allowing him to represent Wales but injuries meant his international career amounted to just three caps, and also ended his club career early at Munster.
13 – Paul Devlin
Paul signed for Munster in 2004 from Rugby League team Widnes, the speedy Centre/Wing also made appearances for Sale Sharks while at Widnes. His stint at Munster was largely unsuccessful despite his raw talent. He went onto represent french team Albi before finishing out his career at the Cornish Pirates.
Despite the poor quality, this is a must see:
14 – Brian Carney
The former Great Britain Rugby League international signed for Munster in 2007, at the conclusion of the Super League season.
Despite relatively few appearances for Munster in the 2006-07 season he was selected to tour with a weakened Irish squad to Argentina in 2007 (many seeing this as an indicator that he was fast-tracked into the squad due to his Rugby League reputation), during the lead-up to the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Impressive performances during the two-test series led to him being included in Ireland’s 30 man squad for the World Cup.
Here’s the intercept try he scored versus Argentina on the summer tour in 2007:
15 – Jeremy Staunton
A player once coined as the next big star of Irish rugby, the fly-half never really scaled the heights expected of him. The presence of O’Gara saw him shifted to fullback for key games and eventually led to him signing for Harlequins in 2004.
He also went on to play for London Wasps and London Irish before finishing of his career at Leicester, where he spent most of his time at 2nd or 3rd choice at 10. A player with much potential, known for his erratic changes in form, running hot and cold, particularly in terms of goal-kicking. He retired with just 5 caps for Ireland in 2012, his last action in an Irish shirt being on the 2007 tour to Argentina.
Neil Willoughby, Pundit Arena.