‘I want him to challenge Jack’: Munster boss Rowntree sets target for Burns

Munster head coach believes Ulster outhalf can also play vital role with province’s young No 10s

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree believes new signing Billy Burns can make a huge impact with the province and that he will also push Jack Crowley to new heights.

Burns, capped seven times by Ireland, has been snapped up by Munster following the decision by Joey Carbery, who has 37 Irish appearances, to move to Bègles-Bordeaux this summer.

Burns, who is 29, has been in Belfast for the past six seasons after moving from Gloucester where he also spent half a dozen seasons, and Rowntree reckons he is going to play a big role for Munster.

“We need someone with a bit of experience and he’s at a crossroads in his career,” said Rowntree. “He’s 29 and it’s a new challenge for him. He likes how we’re playing the game and I think he’s going to fit in really well.


“He’s been around, played international rugby, played at the highest end and been in some big games with Ulster. Joey’s decided he’s going to taste something different at this point in his career, I can’t blame him.

“Billy, I’m excited by it actually. He’s going to be great and particularly good for helping the young guys come through. It’s not just a bridge from the youth to the older players. I want him to challenge Jack.

“I actually think the way we play the game will really suit him and a change of scenery and he was just really excited by it and I was too, having spoken to him. I think he’ll be a great acquisition for us.”

Rowntree has also signed winger Diarmuid Kilgallen from Connacht, while new contract extensions were announced for 35-year old prop John Ryan and lock Cian Hurley.

The Munster head coach expects Burns to hit the ground running when 28-year old Carbery leaves for France.

“He’s keen to kick on with his career. As I say, he’s at a crossroads,” added Rowntree. “It’s a change of scenery for him and his family, a change of playing style but he’ll give us a bit of experience, obviously with Jack doing what Jack’s doing there’s a bit of void isn’t there.

“We’ve got some great young talent coming through like Tony Butler, Dylan Hicks, Tom Wood but we need a bit of experience. Someone who can help those young guys come through and someone who can play, someone who we think will actually challenge Jack as well. So he ticks a lot of boxes there.”

Rowntree, whose side will continue the defence of their URC crown when they head to Swansea this Friday evening to play Ospreys, is sweating on surgical reviews this week on tighthead Oli Jager and lock Fineen Wycherley, both of whom have knee injuries.

Fineen and Oli, we’ll see what the surgeon says. They’ve gone over for a surgical review, it doesn’t always necessarily mean they’ll go in there and do something, though in my experience they will, but we’ll see what the experts say,” added Rowntree, who is boosted by the return from injury of backrowers Jack O’Donoghue and John Hodnett and fullback Simon Zebo.

“Mixed injury news, that’s just another week at Munster Rugby isn’t it,” added Rowntree.