Munster focus turns towards Johann van Graan and Zebre

The Munster squad returns to training today ahead of the Guinness PRO14 trip to Italy to face Zebre in 11 days, while the province’s medical staff have received a fresh influx of injured Ireland players.

Keith Earls, Tommy O’Donnell and John Ryan are all back at Munster’s high-performance centre receiving treatment, following injuries sustained on Ireland duty.

In-form wing Earls suffered a hamstring tear in training and missed the weekend’s record win over South Africa, while flanker O’Donnell also missed the clash after picking up a shoulder injury in training, spraining an AC joint.

Tighthead prop Ryan sustained a calf injury after coming off the bench to replace Tadhg Furlong in Saturday’s 38-3 win and is also rehabilitating in Limerick this week with the expectation he will rejoin the Ireland camp ahead of the final Guinness Series Test, against Argentina, on November 25, a day before Johann van Graan makes his debut as head coach. 

The South African, who finishes up as the Springboks’ forwards coach on Saturday, when South Africa play France in Paris, starts work next Monday ahead of the Zebre match, with his first home game in charge coming in Cork six days later against the Ospreys.

As well as the Ireland contingent, injured or otherwise, van Graan may also be without loosehead prop James Cronin, who tore a calf muscle just 10 minutes into the Barbarians’ win over Tonga at Thomond Park on Friday.

Back-rower Jack O’Donoghue, though, is progressing well, having sustained a minor ankle injury in Munster’s last outing against Dragons.

While Munster prepare to welcome van Graan, Leinster have this week made their acquaintances with a signing from New Zealand, James Lowe, who has begun his first training week in Ireland ahead of the PRO14 match against Dragons at the RDS on November 24. 

The wing, who faced the British & Irish Lions as a Maori All Black this summer in Rotorua, has signed from Super Rugby side the Chiefs, for whom the 25-year-old scored 11 tries in 16 Super Rugby matches this year. After helping the Chiefs to the Super semi-finals, he was part of the Tasman Makos side which reached the Mitre 10 Cup final.

“It’s very exciting to come over here. It’s a whole new challenge for me and it’s something I’ve never experienced before, so I’m keen to learn and, hopefully, help where I can. I’m just excited more than anything,” Lowe told Leinster Rugby’s website. 

“I’m excited to challenge myself in a new environment.”


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