The Munster squad returned to the High Performance Centre in Limerick today with preparations commencing for Sunday’s Champions Cup encounter with Racing 92 at the U Arena (kick-off 4.15pm local time/3.15pm Irish time).
Conor Oliver, Chris Farrell and Rhys Marshall suffered no ill-effects on their return to action against Connacht in last Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby win at Thomond Park.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan said: “We took Chris off after 60 minutes against Connacht, he’s such a vital part. We only have two (fit) centres at this stage, Rory (Scannell) and Chris, so it’s very important, we gave Rory a break and Chris coming back from injury. I thought he did really well, so he’s fit, no problems with him, ready to go.”
Billy Holland and Chris Cloete are continuing to follow the return-to-play protocols after picking up knocks against Ulster on New Year’s Day, while Calvin Nash (hip), Niall Scannell (ribs) and Tommy O’Donnell (shoulder) are all continuing to rehab.
South African lock Gerbrandt Grobler will return to full training this week, Dan Goggin and Dave O’Callaghan continue to progress, and Tyler Bleyendaal (neck) and Jaco Taute (knee) are also continuing to rehab their respective injuries.
Van Graan added: “Yes, Gerbrandt is available. Obviously, he hasn’t played for a very long time so we will make a decision on him later in the week. Luckily we have got other competition. But he is a huge part of our squad going forward.
“He has got an unbelievable amount of talent. I actually coached him a year when he was in school. He had a really good Top 14 last year with Racing 92. Once we feel he is ready for a match, we will pick him.”
Meanwhile, Munster have today confirmed that their head of athletic performance, Aled Walters, will depart the province in March. Working across the Munster strength and conditioning department since 2012, he is leaving the province to take charge of South Africa’s strength and conditioning programme.
With the province’s squad informed of Walters’ move last month, Munster team manager Niall O’Donovan said: “Aled has been an integral member of this backroom team for the past number of seasons, and oversees a great S&C department here within the High Performance Centre where our programmes and processes are well established. We thank Aled for his contribution on and off the field, wishing him all the best with the next chapter.”