Munster came up agonisingly short in their hunt of a fourth Guinness PRO12 title last season when they were blown away by Scarlets in the final at the Aviva Stadium.
The Red Army are now looking to bounce back this campaign, avenge their final defeat and win their first PRO12 crown since 2011.
And the future looks bright for Rassie Erasmus’ men in the hands of winger Alex Wootton, who appears primed to have a breakout season for the province.
The Macclesfield-born Munster man made his competitive debut for the two-time European Cup winners in September last season, coming on as a substitute against Edinburgh and earned his first start a month later against Zebre.
And after being plucked from the Northampton ranks in 2013, Wootton has shown plenty of promise, scoring his first try against Treviso in November last year.
The former sevens player has searing pace and quick feet to bamboozle any defender.
And that turn of speed was on full display for Munster A when he annihilated the Jersey Reds defence with a sensational try after a solo run from his own half to help secure Munster’s second British and Irish Cup title back in April.
Sensational try by Alex Wootton for Munster ‘A’ in their British & Irish Cup final win over Jersey. pic.twitter.com/wd9meCIS6o
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) April 21, 2017
A week after scoring the fabulous solo try against Jersey, Wootton was at it again as he helped book Munster’s semi-final place by scoring another against Treviso.
Wootton has all the tricks and skills to give any defence in the league nightmares and once he gets going, the 23-year-old will be difficult to stop.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) April 21, 2017
And the young starlet is hoping to follow in the footsteps of teammate Dave Kilcoyne who helped Munster win its first British & Irish Cup back in 2012.
He said: “You’ve got the likes of Dave Kilcoyne who won the last B&I Cup and you can see where they are today.
“They’re playing in a semi-final of the Champions Cup so that gives the team belief because if we can do that, we can push on as individuals, as a team and as co-players to get there so it’s very important for us.”
Time to shine
Wootton’s fine early form for the Red Army has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension, showing just how much director of rugby Erasmus believes in his ability.
Munster boast a fine selection of wingers with the likes of Keith Earls and Andrew Conway providing very stiff competition for Wootton.
But at 23 years of age Wootton is just starting to hit his stride and his eye for the try line should make him a crucial asset in Munster’s attempt to wrestle the PRO12 title away from Scarlets.