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Returning Archer Closes In On 100th Munster Cap

Returning Archer Closes In On 100th Munster Cap

Off the back of a tight five-day turnaround last week, the Munster squad are currently availing of a nine-day preparation window for the challenge of Benetton Treviso in round 16 of the GUINNESS PRO12 at Stadio di Monigo on Sunday (kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time).

On the injury front, Robin Copeland sustained a concussion in the opening half against Glasgow Warriors last Friday night and will follow the return-to-play protocols this week.

Tommy O’Donnell has recovered from an illness that saw him withdrawn early in the second period. He has rejoined the Ireland training squad this week.

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Francis Saili, who sustained a concussion in the loss to the Ospreys in round 14, is in the final stages of his return-to-play protocols. The centre is expected to be available for selection this week.

After undergoing surgery and rehabilitation for a neck injury sustained in October’s PRO12 game against Glasgow, Stephen Archer is expected to take a full part in training this week. The prop is just one appearance short of the 100-cap milestone for the province.

Dave O’Callaghan (rib) will return to modified contact training this week, while Tyler Bleyendaal (quad), Duncan Casey (pec), BJ Botha (knee) and Peter O’Mahony (knee) all continue with their respective rehabilitation programmes. 

O’Donnell was one of seven Munster players named in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland training squad for round 3 of the RBS 6 Nations. Joining O’Donnell in the 34 man squad are Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray, Simon Zebo and Dave Foley, who is named in his first training squad of the current campaign.

Ireland face England at Twickenham on Saturday at 4.50pm with Schmidt to name his matchday 23 at lunchtime on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ireland manager Mick Kearney yesterday confirmed that Andy Farrell will commence his role as defence coach with the national squad on April 1, at which time Farrell will end his advisory role with Munster.

On the club front, senior representatives Peter McCabe, Shane Buckley, Cathal Sheridan, Kevin O’Byrne and Jordan Coghlan all lined out for their respective clubs in the weekend’s Ulster Bank League action.

McCabe featured in Dolphin’s 23-22 win over Belfast Harlequins at Irish Independent Park, while Buckley and Coghlan travelled to Crowley Park with Garryowen where the Limerick side went down 30-17 to Galwegians.

Sheridan and O’Byrne took to the pitch for UL Bohemians as the college men enjoyed a 25-22 derby victory over Shannon at Thomond Park. Academy talents Greg O’Shea, Stephen Fitzgerald and Ollie Lyons featured for Shannon.

Elsewhere on the Academy front, Gearoid Lyons, Dan Goggin and Ben Kilkenny helped Young Munster to a 7-6 triumph over Ballynahinch at Tom Clifford Park, while in Cork, Ned Hodson, Ryan Foley, Liam O’Connor and Tomas Quinlan lined out for Cork Constitution at Temple Hill with the hosts suffering a 18-12 defeat to Clontarf.