Rassie Erasmus anxiously awaits update on CJ Stander injury

Very little emerged from yesterday’s press conference in UL to reassure Munster fans that CJ Stander will overcome his ankle sprain in time to line out against Saracens in the semi-final of the European Champions Cup at the Aviva Stadium in just under three weeks time.
Rassie Erasmus anxiously awaits update on CJ Stander injury

Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus didn’t go any further than to state that “CJ is only going for scans today and we won’t know about him until later”.

However, he was more optimistic concerning the other Munster walking wounded.

“Peter O’Mahony has a dead leg, one of the nastier dead legs I have seen in a while but he has a good chance for this week,” he reported.

“Until the captains run, we really thought Conor Murray might pull through. And this week I don’t want to say, we will give him until the last minute again because he is a really important part of our team and Duncan (Williams) has clocked up a lot of minutes and contact this season.

"It would be great to get Conor out there and we will give him until the last minute to see if can he get through this week. He must get some game-time with us.

“Keith Earls wasn’t too bad after Saturday, it was his back and a little bit of a groin but he is good to go. And Ian Keatley is not back yet but he is starting to train with us more this week and hopefully by next week he will be available.”

Understandably, there was an air of relaxation and quiet satisfaction around UL yesterday on the back of Saturday’s big win over Toulouse and for the official opening of the magnificent high performance centre by Minister for Sport Patrick O’Donovan.

But before the squad can even start to think about the Saracens game, Erasmus is directing the concentration of all concerned towards the next two Guinnes PRO12 fixtures against Glasgow at Musgrave Park on Saturday night next at 7.35pm, and the following Saturday, at 3pm against Ulster at Thomond Park.

“We are obviously very happy about the win although we know there were definitely a few minutes in the second half where the game could have got really tight”, said Erasmus.

“To win after they got that pressure on us showed that we are building resolve and hopefully we keep on doing that.

“No, there wasn’t any complacency. We have never this season become complacent. Saturday must have been the first game where we have been really favourites.

"Internally we know that we are still building and growing so I don’t think complacency was a problem. Underestimating the opposition will never be one of our problems this season anyway.”

Now the attention switches to Saturday next and the fourth clash this season with Glasgow with all concerned only too well aware that the Scots feel they have a score to settle after three defeats, at least some suffered in acrimonious circumstances, and with only the PRO12 as their only available prize.

Even if there are bigger fish to be netted, Erasmus insists that this is their immediate target and a very important one.

“Dad used to say, if a dog chases two hares he wouldn’t catch one,” he said with a smile.

“Last week we weren’t sure if we would be planning for a European semi-final and the PRO12. Now we know we are in the semi-final and our mindset has changed a little bit. I am not saying at all that we diminish the importance of the PRO12.

"I am just referring to player management. If you focus on one and lose that one, you can miss out on the other one as well. We will have to try and go in both competitions as far as we can.

“It’s a little bit of a juggling act and we don’t have all the answers yet. We must see if we can get as fit and as on form a squad as possible when we get into the semi-finals after playing formidable teams like Glasgow and Ulster.

"As the week pans out, injury wise, it will be a little bit more player management wise now.”

Even though he tried to place most emphasis on this week’s game, Erasmus also discussed what reigning champions Saracens bring to the table when they come to Dublin in the European Championship.

“Composure, ability to handle the big stage, a winning culture, world-class players, something you would expect from double champions in Europe and the Premiership”, he replied.

“Obviously they are very well established and we will be going in there against a team for whom this isn’t anything new.

“They have great players and great coaches but our biggest challenge will be to try and match their experience in situations like this.

"Maybe we are adapting quicker than we thought we would to the way we want to play but I realise they’ll have the edge on us in experience but we’re playing in Ireland and that will even things out.

“To play in Ireland, anywhere in Ireland, is a home game and we are happy with that. I’m not saying that we’re happy to play Saracens, just that we are happy to play in Ireland.”

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