The former All Blacks star sustained another shoulder injury when Munster beat Ulster at Musgrave Park on Saturday, but he could be given a medical all-clear later this week.
At least that’s the hope within the Munster squad. He underwent a scan yesterday and the results were inconclusive. That was taken as a positive result by those close to the team.
But after two shoulder reconstructions in the last three years, Cullen faces another scan today to double-check the extent of the damage. Cullen was one of four Munster backs injured on Saturday night, and Anthony Horgan has leapfrogged Cullen as the player the management are more concerned about.
Horgan was helped from the field with a knee injury and a scan apparently showed up damage to his cartilage. An appointment with a specialist has been arranged for later this week.
But if Munster coach Declan Kidney felt frustrated on Saturday night, he might be breathing easier with the news that Shaun Payne’s hip injury does not appear to be serious, and Ian Dowling’s hamstring injury is not of a serious nature either.
Further positive news is that he has been able to add the names of Frankie Sheahan, Denis Leamy, Tomas O’Leary, Jeremy Manning and Barry Murphy to his list of players to prepare for Friday’s Magners’s League clash with Leinster in Dublin.
Cullen and Horgan, whatever the outcome of further medical examination, are out, but the possible availability of all or most of the others would be ample compensation as both Irish provinces continue their respective build-ups to the Heineken Cup later this month.
Meanwhile, Munster are expected to officially name their Heineken Cup squad at the launch of that competition in Cork this afternoon.
Kidney has submitted his squad to ERC Ltd, but declined to publicly name it. It’s likely to include the name of Portuguese centre Diogo Mateus, and there may also be news of the possible “wild card” signing of New Zealand-based Samoan Lifeimi Mafi (Taranaki), who might well have been sourced by former Munster centre Jason Holland, who hailed from the same area of New Zealand.
MUNSTER (from): S. Payne, J. Kelly, I. Dowling, R. O’Gara, P. Stringer, J. Manning, B. Murphy, T. O’Leary, B. O’Meara, E. Hickey, T. Halstead. M. Horan, A. Kyriacou, F. Pucciariello, F. Roche, T. Ryan, F. Sheahan, D. O’Callaghan, M. O’Driscoll, P. O’Connell (captain), A. Quinlan, D. Wallace, A. Foley, T. McGann, D. Leamy.