By Simon Lewis
Munster's plans for a strong start to the Rassie Erasmus era have been dealt a blow with the news that All Blacks centre Francis Saili has been ruled out for up to four months.
Saili, 25, had shoulder surgery at the end of last season but his rehabilitation has proven unsuccessful and the centre, capped twice by New Zealand before joining Munster last summer from the Blues, underwent a scope on Monday, with new director of rugby Erasmus preparing to be without the star for a further “three to four months”.
That means Munster could be without Saili for the first four rounds of the Champions Cup pool campaign, with the Irish province set to face French champions Racing 92, Leicester Tigers and Glasgow Warriors before Christmas.
“We got a setback with his shoulder. He went in for a scope yesterday, there was some more repair work (needed). It’s going to be an extended lay-off. It wasn’t great news but it is what it is,” Erasmus said.
Munster kick off their pre-season friendly campaign in Waterford on Friday night when they welcome Guinness Pro12 rivals Zebre to the Regional Sports Centre.
Erasmus will also be without the Ireland Test players on duty in his native South Africa during the summer while Peter O'Mahony, Tyler Bleyendaal, Sammy Arnold, Johnny Holland and Mark Chisholm are continuing their recoveries from injury and South African lock Jean Kleyn is not yet up to speed having arrived from the Stormers last week.