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Jean Kleyn looks forward to his first visit to the Showgrounds

MUNSTER’S South African second-row Jean Kleyn (pronounced Klane) is a man to look up to. Standing at 2.03m and weighing in at 120kg he is playing his part in filling the void created by the retirement of Paul O’Connell and this week he spoke about the standard of the PRO12, his reasons for coming to Ireland and how he has made the transition from student life in Cape Town to residing in Limerick’s Castletroy.
“When Rassie rang me and spoke about joining him at Munster I was immediately excited about the opportunity. I had not known him too well but worked with him for a while with the Stormers but I certainly knew about Munster. It was an amazing opportunity to work with him. I spent the last five years as a student in Cape Town and now I find myself in this great Munster set-up which is fantastic. When I had committed myself to come here one of the first guys to call me was CJ Stander and he filled me in with what I could expect. Rugby here is of a very high standard and is world class. I would compare it to playing against New Zealand teams, very competitive, very fast and very skilful.”
So how is he fitting in with the Irish lifestyle: “Everybody here is so friendly, even when you are driving on the road they are courteous which is very different from South Africa. I suppose it helps to have a few South Africans in the squad and some of us converse in our traditional Afrikaan. Even during some of the games, when the going is tough, I click into the Afrikaan language with words of encouragement for Jaco and CJ.”
Jean was born and reared in Johannesburg and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He then went to University to study engineering and spent the last five years enjoying the student life. It was through his agent that Jean took up the offer from Munster and according to himself he is “loving it.”
When South African school Springs High School visited Limerick last October Jean and Jaco Taute came to see them play Thomond under 18s in Fitzgerald Park. It was a gesture that was much appreciated by both camps: “I played a good couple of games against Springs during my high school days, we gave them a couple, they gave us a couple so I am very much acquainted with them.”
Asked about Saturday’s game against Connacht, Jean Kleyn said that he knows very little about the Showgrounds but his side is expecting another very tough game: “Derby games like these always lift the crowds and the players but we are very much looking forward to the challenge.”

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