Mathewson departs Munster after making a lasting impression

Alby Mathewson played his last game for Munster last Saturday against Racing 92 after a brilliant 15-month spell. The scrum half made a massive impression during his short stint at Munster and became a firm fan favourite during his time at the province.

Heineken Champions Cup Round 2, Thomond Park, Limerick, 23/11/2019 Munster vs Racing 92 Munster’s Alby Mathewson comes on for his final appearance Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Speaking after the game, the Kiwi had nothing but praise for his time in Limerick after initially only signing with the province for four months.

“The atmosphere in Thomond Park for a Champions Cup game is second to none. You get goose bumps in the warm up and when we did the lap of the field it almost brought a tear to my eye.

“I’m going to miss it. The silence when kickers kick goals is something you don’t get to experience too often. I’ve enjoyed it. It’s flown by. I’ve fit in so well with the boys and got so close to them. I’ve no family over here so the boys are my family. The support from them and the supporters have been just overwhelming.

“Learning how much the team means to the fans and to Limerick, it’s a special club. Th supporters are special, and they are known worldwide. You can see why. I’m just glad that I’ve been part of it and I’ve made memories for life here.”

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony echoed those sentiments, singling out Mathewson for his professionalism since his arrival.

“He’s contributed from the moment he arrived to his last game. He was a standard setter from the moment he arrived.

“Good guy to have around the squad, good guy to have around young fellas, great guy to just sit and chat with and just a good person. He fitted in very well and we are very grateful for his effort and we will be very sad to see him go. You’ll miss him around the place, he’s great craic.”

Heineken Champions Cup Round 6, Thomond Park, Limerick 19/1/2019 Munster vs Exeter Chiefs Munster’s Alby Mathewson, Peter O’Mahony and Arno Botha celebrate at the final whistle Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Fellow scrum half Conor Murray discussed how much he learned from the veteran who covered for the Limerickman so well whenever he was on international duty.

“I’ve learned an awful lot of Alby. How he trains, how he approaches the game and most of all how he sees the game.

“Me, all the other 9’s and all the players really have fed off him. He’s an incredible professional, looks after himself so well and that’s why he’s still playing such a level at 33. A great squad man has a laugh and a joke with everyone. He will be a huge loss.”

Munster head coach Johann van Graan reserved the highest of praise for Mathewson, describing him as one of the best professionals he has ever coached in his illustrious coaching career.

“As Pete said, he’s been the standard bearer for this team for the last 15 months. I’ve coached now for 17 years in professional rugby and if I had to pick one player that shows others what a professional rugby player must be like, that’s Alby Mathewson. We’ll miss him very much; we can’t thank him enough and he will be a Munster man for always now.”

Munster Rugby Squad Training, UL, Limerick 17/9/2018 Head Coach Johann van Graan and Alby Mathewson Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

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