Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Joey Carbery are all set to return to training to give Munster a massive boost to their Guinness PRO14 play-off hopes.
Munster, second in Conference A, host Benetton at Thomond Park on Saturday in the league quarter-finals with a semi-final trip to defending champions Leinster up for grabs on the weekend of May 17-18 and the return of the Ireland Test backline trio to selection contention this week will give head coach Johann van Graan extra impetus to the province’s bid for a first trophy since 2011.
Scrum-half Murray was withdrawn with a stiff neck after receiving a knock during a breakdown drill prior to kick-off against Connacht last Saturday. Earls had been due to start on the wing against Cardiff Blues in Cork on April 5 while fly-half Carbery has not played since succumbing to a hamstring injury during the European quarter-final win at Edinburgh on March 30.
Head coach van Graan gave a positive update on all three on Monday as the Munster squad reconvened to prepare for their knockout game with the Treviso side.
Of Murray, van Graan said: “We took him off as a precaution on Saturday before the game. He was assessed by the medical team this morning, just a bit of stiffness, a minor neck injury and he’ll be available to train this afternoon.
“He took a hit. It was on the TV coverage, in the warm-up, he fell backwards and we feel he can train this afternoon. It’s great news, fantastic news.
“He really wanted to play in the game and we said we’ll go and assess in the changing room. He wanted to play, he’s had some issues before but luckily after close examination by the medical team all’s good and he’s ready to train.”
Asked to confirm that Murray was available to play this weekend at Thomond Park, the head coach replied: “Yes.”
He also had good news on both Carbery and Earls.
“Both will be into team training for the first time tomorrow afternoon and should they come through that and Thursday’s training they should all be available for selection over the weekend.
“Also great news. They haven’t been with the team for a while so they won’t train today but hopefully get into full training tomorrow and then hopefully that goes well.”
Munster also reported an immediate return to training for young player of the year Dan Goggin, the centre having been removed for a Head Injury Assessment late in the 27-14 win over Connacht last Saturday.
Goggin did not return to the field but Munster stressed he did not fail the HIA and is free to train.
Having missed out on a home semi-final, Munster have been mobilising their efforts to attract a healthy crowd to Thomond Park for this Saturday afternoon’s quarter-final.
Adults buying a ticket on their website have the chance to also order two Junior tickets free of charge for the Benetton game.
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