Munster will send their strongest possible squad to Wales for Saturday’s Magners League clash with Llanelli Scarlets (Stradey Park, kick-off 2.45pm). The game is Munster’s third away fixture in the space of six days.
Excluded from the Munster squad for the Llanelli game are Barry Murphy and Niall Ronan who both sustained thumb injuries in the province’s 19-9 league defeat to Ulster at Ravenhill on Wednesday.
Murphy could certainly be excused if he refused to travel to Belfast in the near future, if ever again. Wednesday marked the third successive occasion that he has left the north injured.
Back in March 2006, after he had established himself in the number 13 jersey, he sustained a terrible ankle injury at Ravenhill which put an end to his season.
He missed the 2006 Heineken Cup final and unfortunately he will miss the upcoming decider against Toulouse, having dislocated his thumb in Wednesday’s loss to Ulster. The injury is expected to keep him out for four to six weeks.
It is cruel luck for Murphy who had just fought his way back from the shoulder injury he suffered when playing for Munster ‘A’ against Ulster ‘A’ at Shaw’s Bridge in early February.
Niall Ronan’s situation is worse in that he suffered a dislocation and a fracture (thumb) that will rule him out for six to eight weeks.
Meanwhile, Keith Earls, who was a late withdrawal from the Munster matchday squad (for the Ulster tie) due to a stomach complaint, is recovering but is not included in the squad for the trip to Llanelli.
Munster’s Llanelli squad trained on Thursday at Garryowen FC without the players on duty on Wednesday night, but those who may be involved with their AIB League clubs at the weekend will train with their clubs on Thursday evening.
MUNSTER Squad (v Llanelli Scarlets): Backs (13) – Denis Hurley, Shaun Payne, Doug Howlett, Ian Dowling, Kieran Lewis, Brian Carney, Anthony Horgan, Rua Tipoki, Lifeimi Mafi, Peter Stringer, Tomas O’Leary, Paul Warwick, Ronan O’Gara.
Forwards (14) – Marcus Horan, Federico Pucciariello, John Hayes, Tony Buckley, Frankie Sheahan, Jerry Flannery, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Anthony Foley.