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Van Graan Rates O’Mahony As ’50-50′ For Chiefs Clash

Van Graan Rates O’Mahony As ’50-50′ For Chiefs Clash

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony is a major doubt for their Heineken Champions Cup final round showdown with Exeter Chiefs at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.30pm). With additional seating installed, a record-equalling crowd of 26,267 will attend Saturday’s game.

The Munster squad, who hold a four-point lead over Exeter at the top of Pool 2, returned to training at the High Performance Centre in Limerick today. Peter O’Mahony underwent a scan this morning on the rib cartilage injury he suffered during the 41-15 bonus point win away to Gloucester.

Head coach Johann van Graan rates his captain as ’50-50, at best’ to play against Exeter, explaining: “Pete’s gone for a scan this morning. He’s had some treatment over the weekend, with a bang to the ribs and rib cartilage you do have a lot of pain.

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“It’s not something that just goes away. So we’ll give him every opportunity to recover up to Saturday. Unfortunately, if you’re a forward, it’s not something you can hide, if you go to the breakdown, or steal a ball. I had a chat to him this morning, he’s very open-minded about it.

“He’d love to play in this game, but his body has to work with it first. First and foremost, it’s Pete’s health that is most important so we’ll make a decision on it later in the week.”

The following players are progressing with their rehabilitation programmes – Brian Scott (foot), James Cronin (leg), Jack O’Donoghue (knee), Dave O’Callaghan (foot) and JJ Hanrahan (hip) – but Scott’s sidelining has meant he is deregistered from Munster’s Champions Cup squad with the fit-again Liam O’Connor taking his place.

O’Connor was one of twelve senior squad members who got game-time in the Munster ‘A’ team’s 26-22 victory over their Leinster counterparts at Thomond Park last Friday afternoon. With both of the province’s sides winning and Champions Cup knockout rugby on the line this weekend, there is a serious edge to training in Limerick as competition for places ramps up.

“Games like this is why we play this game. You might win or you might lose but one thing I can guarantee is the effort for the people of Munster is the most important thing and that is why you have to improve your game because you can’t always count on emotion,” added van Graan, who coached Munster to two semi-finals in his first year at the helm.

“That’s why I say I would like to think we have improved our game so we’re going to use the emotion but we also have to play well to beat a quality team like Exeter. I think the response (to losing to Castres last month) was good, I think we took it the same as every single week, we’re very disappointed when we lose, we definitely went there to get a win and we weren’t good enough on the night.

“I think the team that then played against Ulster responded really well, they gave it all they got and we came up just short. I really think the last few weeks the team that was selected really played well under extensive pressure.

“Leinster, like we all know the quality they brought to Thomond Park, and Connacht, with all the threats that they pose at this stage, and then to beat a team like Gloucester away in the Champions Cup, I’m very happy but that’s all in the past now. It’s all about this weekend.”