Munster head coach Johann van Graan continues to count the cost of Monday’s defeat to Ulster with a number of players nursing injuries as the squad returned to the High Performance Centre in Limerick today.
The GUINNESS PRO14 round 12 encounter saw Billy Holland, Calvin Nash, Niall Scannell, Tommy O’Donnell and James Cronin all exit early through various knocks, while Chris Cloete was another casualty following the final whistle in Belfast on New Year’s Day.
Second row Holland, who was replaced after 22 minutes for a HIA, is following the return-to-play protocols, and with a five-day turnaround for this Saturday’s match against Connacht at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.45pm), he will play no part for the first time this season.
South African flanker Cloete is another who is following the return-to-play protocols after reporting symptoms post-match. Nash (hip), Niall Scannell (ribs) and O’Donnell (shoulder) will need to be assessed further with the trio not expected to be available this weekend.
Cronin, who was treated for cramp on New Year’s Day, will train fully today. Ronan O’Mahony, who was the latest to fall foul of the seasonal illnesses, is expected to train later this week.
A further positive sees recent Ireland debutant Chris Farrell return to training after overcoming the knee injury he sustained while playing during November’s GUINNESS Series. Rhys Marshall continues to follow the return-to-play protocols for a concussion sustained against Leicester Tigers last month.
After returning to field-based training last week, Dan Goggin (knee) and Gerbrandt Grobler (ankle) will continue with their return-to-play rehab this week. Also continuing with their rehab programmes are Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), Jaco Taute (knee) and Dave O’Callaghan (knee).
Munster head coach Johann van Graan said after the 24-17 loss to Ulster: “Niall (Scannell) looks pretty banged up, is in a lot of pain. Calvin Nash couldn’t take the field in the second half (against Ulster). We’ve only four days until we play again but luckily we’ve 12 to 15 guys back in Limerick training (yesterday) morning and most of them will play on Saturday.
“There will be multiple changes again. For this one a lot of guys got their opportunities. Pretty bruised down there. Lot of injuries, especially to key guys, you know, Niall, Billy, James, pretty important guys in our tight five. We’ve got to get on the bus, recover and then we’ve got two days of training and then we’re right back in it on Saturday.
“Sam (Arnold) has been a big part of our team over the last few weeks. Hopefully we’ll have Chris Farrell back this weekend. We’ll reassess him (after training). We’ll have Rory Scannell back and hopefully Dan Goggin within the next week or two, so at least we’ve got some depth in the centres.”
Tickets for Munster v Connacht are available to buy online here, at the Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park ticket offices (Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm), or by calling 061 421103.