WHEN Edinburgh Rugby travel to Cork to take on Munster on Friday, there will be a familiar face there to greet Pierre Schoeman.

The South African may be thousands of miles from where he grew up in Pretoria in South Africa, but on Friday evening he will come face-to-face with the man who helped develop him from a teenage prodigy into a professional rugby player.

Johann van Graan is the head coach of Munster these days but a decade ago, he was still in his homeland of South Africa and coached Schoeman when he was 16-years-old. And the loose-head prop was quick to pay tribute to the coach who had a significant impact on his game.

“He coached me when I was grade ten. He coached my brother as well, who plays for the Sharks now,” the 25-year-old said.

“He was very good, very professional. He was with the Springboks as well and he has been very successful.

“He had a massive influence on my game.”

And the connection goes even further, with van Graan’s father, Barend, the CEO of the Bulls in South Africa, who Schoeman played for prior to signing for Edinburgh.

Van Graan is not the only South African at Munster these days, with the likes of Arno Botha, Chris Cloete and Jean Kleyn also on the Irish clubs books. But it is not, says Schoeman, anything new to travel to a club in Europe and be faced by a number of South African faces that he went up against as an up-and-coming player. And in the main, he and his compatriots like being in Europe.

“Everywhere we play these days I would say there are about 47 South Africans that you played against in the Currie Cup, for your province,” he said.

“It is good to see so many familiar faces.

“Not always enjoying the UK but playing in the UK. I do enjoy it here a lot though."

The familiarity of Schoeman and the South African contingent only serves to heighten the respect the South African has for a Munster team he knows Edinburgh will have to be on top form to defeat.

The Irishmen are currently top of Edinburgh’s conference in the Pro14 and with the capital club aspiring to reach the play-offs, there is no doubt as to the importance of this game.

Edinburgh have been in good form in the Pro14, although a draw against Bordeaux in the Challenge Cup last weekend, having enjoyed a ten point lead, was something of a blip.

And with Edinburgh having been defeated by Munster in March in the quarter-finals of last season's Champions Cup, Richard Cockerill’s men will be well aware of the threat of their opponents.

Scotland and Edinburgh club captain Stuart McInally is due to make his first appearance of the season for the capital side after being afforded an extended break following his World Cup exertions in Japan and the hope is he will be the extra boost Edinburgh need in order to get themselves over the line at Independent Park.

And Schoeman, who played in that quarter-final defeat last season, is in no doubt as to the quality of their opponents.

“They have a very good kicking game, a very good set piece as well,” he said of Munster.

“Discipline is the key for us off the ball and we have to be on it from the first scrum and maul and the whole game. It is a battle of concentration. Even in the last minute you could lose or win the game.”