Mako Vunipola Des Berry: ‘He is Ireland’s most maligned player – but last weekend Jean Kleyn showed how immense he can be’

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There have been those who have taken shots at what Jean Kleyn can’t do rather than zone-in on what he can do. 

It didn’t help Kleyn’s cause when his significant derriere landed in the World Cup seat presumed to be reserved for Devin Toner, making him enemy number one in some quarters.

Unsurprisingly, the Leinster lock has taken the shock and awe of his omission and turned it into something invaluable for his province, winning the trust of Andy Farrell to join Kleyn in the new Ireland coach’s Christmas stocktake.

Ever the gentle giant, the sort of guy that might shed a tear at a sad movie, Toner knows, more than anyone, how his career has exceeded expectations. 

Those of Kleyn’s were limited to being one of those hulking South African forwards who would toil away in the shadows of Eben Etsebeth, Lood de Jager and Franco Mostert, even before RG Snyman happened on the scene.

The umbilical cord that has been established between South Africa and Munster from the moment Rassie Erasmus set foot at Shannon airport lives on through coaches Johann van Graan and JP Ferreria and players Arno Botha, Chris Cloete, Keynan Knox and Kleyn. 

The 26-year-old is not so much ‘an enforcer’ as a re-enforcer of Munster’s make-up.

Did Donncha O’Callaghan ever set the world on fire with his carry and tackle numbers? No.

The beauty of his game came from how ugly he made it for those on the other side of the argument.

He was a disruptor, a ruck-rumbler, an agitator, a minder (for Ronan O’Gara), a standard-setter to offset against the more mercurial gifts of Paul O’Connell.

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