It means “absolutely everything” for Jean Kleyn to lift the BKT URC trophy with Munster at his old home ground.
Kleyn played for the Stormers for three seasons before joining the Reds in 2016 and, seven years later, tomorrow’s final in Cape Town gives him the chance to win his first trophy with the province.
The second row grew up near Johannesburg and, as expected, there will be a large family contingent in attendance.
READ MORE: Munster’s ‘Cup mentality’ lands them in a final that wasn’t in the plan this season
“I think 25 or 26 await me,” smiled Kleyn. they are traveling down.
“It’s going to be nice to have a lot of my people there, too.”
Speaking in January, the 29-year-old said “his whole world has changed” after moving to Limerick, where he built a new home near UL’s Munster training base with his family.
Ireland is his home now and in the future and it’s clear what the prospect of cutlery means to Kleyn after this long wait.
“I’ve been with Munster for a good few years now,” he said. “I have matches of 100 and 30-something. As for a club it means something to me, it means everything to me right now.
“For us to win a trophy, it would be amazing, it’s something we’ve been building for the last seven years.
“I would say that since Axel (Anthony Foley) passed away, there have been upsets and a lot of changes in the coaching staff and we have struggled to achieve cohesion for the last seven years.
“But this year potentially we’ve figured it out in terms of our coaching staff, we’re really coaching a very exciting brand of rugby and we’re all really enjoying playing it. I think it means a lot to us, yes.”
Earlier this week, former Stormers and Munster center Jean de Villiers said the key to Munster’s success was keeping his emotions in check.
That could be a problem for the Reds, given Kleyn’s comments about what it means for Graham Rowntree’s side to be in the final.
But the second row dismisses any concern that the province is in trouble that day in that regard.
“I don’t think it’s hard to do,” Kleyn said. “I think it’s something we’ve been training for a while, the calm in the chaos.
“And I think because we’ve put so much emphasis on that, just stay calm in the moment… you know, you think you don’t have time, you have a lot more time than you think.
“So I think it’s becoming second nature for us to take a breather and find a bit of stillness in the chaos.
“I don’t think any professional rugby player is not ready for a final, so obviously there will be that factor, are we going to be too emotional? No. Do we plan to break in and throw fists? Probably not.” .
“But we will be emotionally ready for it, absolutely.”
As much as Leinster thought they solved the physical problem this season, La Rochelle still wore them down in the Champions Cup decider.
This week it’s Munster’s turn to face strong opposition in the form of South African opposition, but Jean Kleyn doesn’t think the Reds are lacking in that department.
“No, I don’t think that’s something you can say,” he said. “It’s very much a way of thinking for us, we pride ourselves on the physical, we pride ourselves on the details.
“We pride ourselves on working better than other clubs, not just on the pitch, but during the week I think we train harder than most URC teams, if not most teams in the world.
“From a performance standpoint, our S&C coaches push us to the limit every day and I think we’ve managed to produce more in terms of training load and game load than any previous season.
“But I think it’s very much a matter of team culture that coincides with that. We South Africans love a bit of gruffness and I don’t think that’s the key to it.”
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