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Positive Injury News For Scannell And Stander, But Murray Remains Doubtful

Positive Injury News For Scannell And Stander, But Murray Remains Doubtful

In a huge week for the province, the extended Munster squad gathered in UL today as preparations stepped up for next weekend’s action, including the British & Irish Cup final against Jersey Reds on Friday night in Irish Independent Park and the Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Following Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 derby win over Ulster at Thomond Park, Rory Scannell became the latest injury concern after the centre was replaced after 66 minutes with an ankle injury, while winger Darren Sweetnam is following the return-to-play protocols for a concussion he sustained in the opening minute.

It has been since confirmed that Scannell sustained an ankle sprain which is not as serious as initially thought. He will not take part in today’s session and will be reviewed as the week continues.

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Scrum half Duncan Williams, who was a late withdrawal from the team against Ulster due to a tight groin, will take a full part in training today. On a further positive, Ian Keatley, who was a late addition to the starting XV, reported no ill-effects after making his return from a six week lay-off due to a knee ligament injury sustained against Cardiff Blues.

CJ Stander (ankle sprain) is expected to make a return to full training this week, while Conor Murray (shoulder) will continue to be reviewed by the medical team and is a doubt for the Champions Cup showdown with Saracens. Jean Kleyn (neck), Dave Foley (wrist), Sean McCarthy (knee), Mike Sherry (back) are rehabbing their injuries.

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said: “I don’t think Rory Scannell will be out this weekend, I think he will have a good chance. I think Jaco Taute might be back, I think CJ Stander might be available. I think Darren Sweetnam will be able to play after that head knock. I think he’ll make it before Saturday.

“But I think Conor is definitely a doubt and we’ll give him as long as we can but I’m fairly confident that he won’t make a surprise return this weekend. It’s really becoming a bit of a worry now and he must start thinking about the bigger things that will still happen this season, including the Lions tour if he makes that squad. Apart from him, the squad is not looking too bad.”

Giving his assessment of the defending European champions, the South African explained: “I think Saracens started out as a team who suffocated and strangled teams out of life and hope and belief during matches. Now they’ve developed into a team that does that, but when they’re on attack they have these almost rugby-league mini moves which seem to come off, then matching that with a great kicking game and great finishers.

“They are one of the most complete teams, I’m talking southern Hemisphere with Super Rugby, the Crusaders, those kinds of teams, the Brumbies at their best.

“They are right up there and I think the way they’ve contracted and balanced their squad with foreign players and building momentum, squad size, that’s the team everybody aspires to be like at this stage.”

From a Munster ‘A’ point of view, David Johnston will return to full training this week after overcoming a hip pointer sustained while playing for his club side Garryowen the previous week in the Ulster Bank League.

On the club front in Division 1A, Munster Academy members Shane Daly, Ned Hodson, Vincent O’Brien, Liam O’Connor and Rory Burke were all involved in Cork Constitution’s 34-27 victory over St. Mary’s College at Temple Hill on Saturday, with Hodson crossing for a brace.

While in Dublin there were mixed results for Limerick sides Garryowen and Young Munster. Alex Wootton and Academy players Steven McMahon and JP Phelan were involved in Garryowen’s defeat away to Lansdowne, while the Academy’s Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin and Fineen Wycherley played their part in Young Munster’s 33-12 triumph over Old Belvedere. McMahon added a try for Garryowen and Goggin ran in two Young Munster tries.

In Division 1B, Duncan Casey, Stephen Fitzgerald and Greg O’Shea lined out for Shannon away to Ballymena and prop Peter McCabe came off the bench for UCC in their 19-5 loss to Old Wesley at Donnybrook.