The Connacht medical team have issued a squad update ahead of Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby clash with Munster in Thomond Park (kick-off 7.45pm). Cian Kelleher is the only new injury concern after the defeat to Leinster in Dublin and has been ruled out of the Munster game.
Denis Buckley underwent surgery this week on an ankle injury sustained against Brive last month and will be out of action until mid-February. Dominic Robertson-McCoy has returned to full team training this week following his thumb injury, while JP Cooney is recovering from recent hamstring surgery and will be out of action until April.
Hooker Pat O’Toole is continuing his rehabilitation for his hamstring injury under the supervision of the Connacht medical and performance team, and experienced lock Andrew Browne has stepped up his rehabilitation from his Achilles injury and will return to action in early January.
Cian Kelleher, who was replaced early on against Leinster, sustained a head injury during last Monday’s game and will follow the return-to-play protocols. Steve Crosbie will be out of action until the end of of the month with a knee injury, while Rory Scholes has returned to full team training this week following his appendix surgery. Cormac Brennan will return next month following shoulder surgery.
In the province’s back row contingent, Eoin McKeon is progressing well in his rehabilitation from a calf injury and will be out of action until the end of January. James Connolly is continuing his recovery from a recent calf injury and is due to integrate into team training next week.
Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery and will return to team training in late January, while Jake Heenan is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out of action until April.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s trip to Thomond Park, Connacht head coach Kieran Keane said: “Another big battle, we will have to rotate things. Three of our internationals (Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane), for example, will have to get a rest so we will start from there and sort it out.
“We are trying to create our own little bit of history, that’s all any player or coach tries to do. It doesn’t matter who it is against, it’s a matter of thinking about what we can do. The performance and effort levels from the boys over the past few weeks has been top quality and, particularly in the interpro series, we have seen some real character.
“Munster will be hurting after their two games over the Christmas period, and at home they will be a massive challenge. They have quality all over the park and I’m sure they will be really determined to get back to winning ways before they get back to European competition.
“We will continue to do what we have done all season. We will prepare well and we will try to impose our game-plan on the game. It will be a huge test in Limerick and a huge opportunity for our guys.”