MUNSTER head into tomorrow’s PRO14 game at Musgrave Park against Osprey, 5.30pm, without international winger Keith Earls but his loss to the side has been cushioned by the form of Alex Wootton.
After scoring two tries last weekend away to Zebre, Wootton is keen to further impress new boss Johann van Graan, especially with a big European game just around the corner. “These are huge games. It gives you a reason to show the coaches why they should pick you in the bigger games,” said Wootton.
Earls’ injury is a serious blow to Munster’s preparations for Europe but another big performance from the Wootton, who also has his sights set on the international side, will ease van Graan’s worries even further.
“Game-time is huge and obviously to influence people around you is important, too. People helped me when I first came on the scene... this kind of period now where the international players are away is huge because guys like me are getting game-time.
“Johann is here now as well and this is a huge time, because I was able to show him what I can do.”
Wootton qualifies to play for Ireland through his father who is from Down, and has already tasted game time at the Junior World Cup with Mike Ruddock’s team after Wootton had contacted Ruddock to make him aware of his qualifications.
“He brought me to the Junior World Cup and when I went to France, I spoke to someone in the IRFU, I think it was (Head of Elite Player Pathway) Colin McEntee and he came up with a plan to put me in touch with a province.
“Munster came up and I snapped at it because of the history of the province. Over in the UK everyone knows about Munster, it was an easy decision to come over.”
Wootton would also love to pull on the green jersey if the opportunity arose.
“That is the bigger picture. Obviously, I have smaller goals to get there.
“That, 100%, is the goal. That is why I keep working here, and hopefully, if I get the opportunity to go to a camp, or even get a cap, that is what is driving me.