Peter O’Mahony a major doubt for Munster

Munster’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will address the Conor Murray controversy for the first time at the weekly media briefing in Limerick today, with concern now also focusing on the availability of captain Peter O’Mahony.
Peter O’Mahony a major doubt for Munster

The 27-year old is undergoing return-to-play protocols and it remains to be seen if he will be available for the final Champions Cup pool game against Racing 92 at a sold-out Thomond Park on Saturday evening.

O’Mahony suffered a concussion in the closing stages of last weekend’s bruising encounter in Glasgow.

The Munster squad were given an extra day’s recovery on Monday, but returned to training at their base in UL yesterday to begin their preparations for the showdown with Ronan O’Gara’s side.

Doubts might surround Murray — who picked up a head injury during Saturday’s win over Glasgow, was taken off, but passed fit to return — and O’Mahony, but Munster are hopeful Simon Zebo, who picked up a dead leg in the 14-12 win in Scotstoun, will be available.

Flanker Tommy O’Donnell is also expected to train this week and could be back in contention as Munster bid to nail down a home quarter-final, having failed to make the knockout stages for the past two seasons.

The return of O’Gara to Thomond Park in the opposition dugout for the first time adds another layer to this fixture, though it remains to be seen if Racing will send a strong side. They were already out of contention when Munster beat them 32-7 and, having beaten Leicester Tigers 34-3 last weekend to pick up their first points in the campaign, Racing are not now under as much pressure coming to Limerick with last season’s finalists at least avoiding the ignominy of being wiped in the pool.

That said, Racing have never lost all three away matches at the pool stage since they made their bow in the competition in 2010-11.

Saturday’s clash will be Munster’s 60th in the competition at Thomond Park, with only Leicester (2007 & 2015), Ulster (2012) and Clermont Auvergne (2015) managing to escape with victories from the Limerick citadel.

That is unlikely to change on Saturday and, aside from securing home advantage in the quarter-finals, Munster will also be striving to maintain a superb defensive record in the competition.

Remarkably, Munster have not conceded a try in the opening hour of any of their five matches to date and they are on course to create their best ever defensive record in the pool stages.

They have only conceded three tries, one less than their best record to date in 2004-05, when a combination of Castres, Ospreys, and Harlequins could only muster four between them.

Leinster have the best Irish record in the pools to date, conceding just three tries against Wasps, Edinburgh, and Castres in 2008-09.

Clermont Auvergne also only conceded three in 2012-13 when Leinster, Exeter, and Scarlets provided the opposition, while in 2001-02, Leicester Tigers saw their line also crossed just three times by Scarlets, Perpignan, and Calvisano.

However, the record for the pool stages belongs to Bath, who coughed up just two tries in six matches against Biarritz, Swansea, and Edinburgh in 2001-02.

Alas, it didn’t do them much good for having conceded just 56 points in six pool matches, Llanelli came to The Rec and thumped them 27-10 in their own backyard.

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