The Munster squad trained at the University of Limerick yesterday as they continue to prepare for Saturday’s match away to Cardiff Blues in round 8 of the RaboDirect PRO12 (kick-off 6.30pm).
There was positive news on the injury front with both Denis Hurley and Ian Nagle returning to full training after their recent injuries.
Full-back/winger Hurley trained on Tuesday after missing the last four weeks with a knee injury that he sustained in the Heineken Cup pool win over Gloucester.
Second row Nagle is back in training after spraining his left foot against Zebre in the middle of September.
Meanwhile, Felix Jones has been called up to the Ireland camp as cover and missed the province’s training session in Limerick.
New signing Gerhard van den Heever was at UL but did not take part in the full session as his workload is being monitored after arriving from Western Province with a slight groin niggle.
The utility back’s recent heavy workload included 14 successive games before arriving in Munster and he is expected to train on Thursday.
Ian Keatley missed training as he has soreness in his hip and groin area and the Ireland international has been ruled out of the Cardiff Blues match.
James Downey will also miss weekend’s game with an irritated groin injury that he sustained in training last week, but there is better news for Luke O’Dea as he expects to return to full training next week after a slight hamstring injury that he picked up playing for Shannon.
Niall Ronan has seen a specialist and received an injection for a sprained knee injury that he sustained in training and will be monitored by the medical staff for the next two weeks.
Longer term absentees Simon Zebo (foot), Paddy Butler (thumb), Donnacha Ryan (knee), Tommy O’Donnell (knee), Keith Earls (knee) and Gerry Hurley (finger) are all continuing their recovery from injury.
Commenting on some of those injured players, head coach Rob Penney said: “Donnacha is back on his feet and getting back into a bit of activity. It’s low intensity at the moment and he’s had a pretty good report form the specialist.
“We’re not sure yet of the timeline but it just depends on how he reacts to the increased level of activity. He should be (back) before Christmas, it could be much sooner. It just depends on any repercussions from his activity.
“Earlsy has responded really well to the treatment he got around the early part of the national camp; responded really well from the freshening, being off his feet, and he could be back in the next couple of weeks.
“Zeebs is progressing well. The bone’s knitting nicely and the specialist is really pleased with that because that can be a massive area of concern if the knitting’s not taking place in the foot because of the shortage of blood supply down there. it can be a very niggly injury. So at this point it’s all really positive.
“He doesn’t need to have an operation to have a screw put in or anything like that but he is probably still a month or six weeks away from being in our frame.
“Tommy (O’Donnell) is another one that’s progressing really well. His timelines were around, maybe, Christmas time, but he’s probably maybe a week a so ahead of schedule in terms of that. From what could have been a pretty nasty rehab process, it has gone really smoothly for him.”