The Munster squad gathered in Limerick today for their first squad session of the week and there was a timely break from the snow showers as the players hit the UL pitch for their opening pitch session ahead of Saturday’s European Champions Cup round 5 clash with Saracens.
Asides from the normal bumps and bruises reported from last weekend’s league encounter with Zebre, Conor Murray did not participate in today’s outdoor session. The scrum half will continue to be reviewed by the medical staff after coming off with a neck injury in Parma.
There was good news for hooker Duncan Casey as he returned to full contact training today. He sustained a slight shoulder injury against Connacht on New Year’s Day.
Robin Copeland, also shoulder, continues to be monitored on a week-to-week basis after meeting with the specialist last week, and he will advance with his on-field involvement once symptoms improve.
Dave Kilcoyne and Andrew Smith (both knee) are progressing well with their rehabilitation programmes, and like Copeland will not be available for selection this week.
Munster depart from Cork airport for London on Friday and face Saracens at a sold-out Allianz Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 1pm).
The province’s head coach Anthony Foley knows there is a need for further improvement in terms of consistency and intensity across the full 80 minutes heading into next weekend’s crunch clash in London.
Speaking after the 31-7 bonus point success away to Zebre, Foley said: “I’m happy with the result, happy with the five points, getting the bonus point against the run of play in the second half. But I thought we did enough in the first half to warrant a result. We have come away relatively unscathed in terms of injuries. It is good to get back on the winning ways.
“We wanted to build the game on pace and momentum and we achieved that. We were fortunate enough to get a couple of good scores and maintain momentum on the game. Unfortunately we didn’t do that in the second half and it became a dour affair to be honest. But it is a win, it is a result and it is something that we will take.
“We are not looking at two weeks, we are looking at Saracens. It is going to be a huge game for us and it is important that we are going over there in the right frame of mind and give ourselves a chance.”
Last Saturday also saw fit-again duo Keith Earls and James Cronin return to provincial duty, with the Munster boss adding: “It was a great opportunity for them to throw their hat in the ring, particularly with next weekend in mind. And it was great for them to get a good hit-out out there, both of them to get over 20 minutes in the second-half.
“It was good to see ‘Earlsy’ flying into a few tackles and Jamesie being his robust self out there. It gives the whole squad a massive lift to have quality players coming back of that calibre.”