RISING rugby star Gavin Coombes has been described as ‘certainly one with potential for the future’ by Ireland head coach Andy Farrell after the Skibbereen man earned his first call-up to Irish senior squad.
Coombes and Bantry powerhouse Fineen Wycherley have both been named in Ireland’s 37-man squad for next month’s Vodafone Summer Series – and it’s a fitting reward for the two West Cork men who have caught the eye with Munster this season.
While both Coombes and Wycherley, who came up through the ranks at Skibbereen RFC and Bantry Bay RFC respectively, have trained briefly with the Ireland senior squad in the past 12 months, this is the first time that they have been named in the squad for upcoming games.
The highly-rated Munster men could make their senior Ireland debuts – and win their first caps – when Andy Farrell’s side play Japan on Saturday, July 3rd and then the USA on Saturday, July 10th, both Tests at the Aviva Stadium. Both games will be live on RTÉ.
Coombes (23) capped off a sensational season for Munster with four tries in their PRO14 Rainbow Cup rout against Zebre last Friday night, to finish his campaign with 15 tries in 22 appearances. Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has been impressed by what he has seen.
‘He certainly knows where the try-line is. He certainly knows what his point of difference is going to continue to be throughout his career,’ Farrell said. ‘I’m sure, like everyone else coming into camp, Gavin will have to find his feet quickly. The international scene is a different world. He’s certainly one with potential for the future.’
Wycherley (23), who can play in the back row and the second row, has already made over 60 appearances for Munster and he signed a new two-year deal earlier this year.
Speaking on Off the Ball AM this week, former Munster and Ireland star Alan Quinlan hailed Coombes as ‘a try machine’. ‘He is someone who has a big future ahead as an international, not just a Munster player,’ Quinlan said.
‘He has shown and proved this year that his game has improved all the time. I love his intelligence, I think he has a real eye for the try-line and he has 15 tries this year. He is just a try machine and he is a really intelligent player.
‘What he brings is a huge physicality, he is six foot five, he is north of 115 kilos, he is very powerful and he is going to get better and better all the time.’