“You learn quicker when you get thrown in the deep end” | New Munster signing Alex Nankivell speaks on settling in at his new team

New Munster signing Alex Nankivell spoke in his first interview since the centre joined from the Chiefs last month on a two-year contract.

Munster’s latest recruit Alex Nankivell has given his first interview since he joined the province on a two-year deal last month.

Prior to joining, he scored 13 tries in 70 Chiefs appearances and set up two tries in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific final against Crusaders as Chiefs fell to a narrow loss.

The 27-year-old spoke on anxiety he felt coming over, as well as what it was like to play in Thomond Park, in what has been a quick start to his Munster career, already racking up five appearances.

John Ryan has returned to Munster for this season, having played last year at the Chiefs, and Nankivell has cited him as a big help settling in.

It’s honestly been unreal, I had a bit of anxiety coming over not really knowing too many people, but John Ryan helped me out a lot, was the bridge between coming over from the Chiefs to here, it’s actually been awesome!”

On settling in
9 April 2022; John Ryan of Munster, centre, is congratulated by teammates Conor Murray and Niall Scannell after winning a penalty during the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 first leg match between Exeter Chiefs and Munster at Sandy Park in Exeter, England. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The centre, born in New Zealand, made his provincial debut for the Tasman Mako in 2015 after a successful campaign with Christchurch Boys High School in 2014, and made his debut for the Chiefs in 2017.

An impressive 2019 season saw Nankivell named in the Maori All Blacks squad, a squad he would once again join in 2021.

In November 2022 he was selected for the All Blacks XV that played Ireland ‘A’ and the Barbarians and also lined out for the All Blacks XV on their tour to Japan in July 2023.

Having played his entire career in New Zealand, he was full of praise for Thomond Park, highlighting how it differs to the stadia in his homeland.

“Unreal. Stadiums in New Zealand are probably a bit bigger and they sit a bit further away. It’s quite intimate, obviously the supporters are real passionate here. To have an atmosphere like that when it wasn’t even full for my first time playing at Thomond was pretty awesome!”

On playing at Thomond Park
4 September 2021; A general view of United Rugby Championship branding on a flag at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It is always going to be a difficult for a player to move to a new team, especially in a new country, and Nankivell says he has been “thrown in at the deep end.”

Five appearances in red already for the Maori All Black international, he feels the hectic start is helping him “learn quicker,” as he adjusts to the various systems and tactical differences under Graham Rowntree.

“It was challenging, you’ve been playing in New Zealand for a different team and system. Having to come over here and learn a completely different system was challenging. You learn quicker when you get thrown in the deep end, it’s been awesome to pull on the jersey four times already, excited for the next one.”

On quick start to Munster career

Nankivell will be hoping to be in action when Munster face Leinster at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. You can watch his full interview below.

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