Rassie Erasmus calls Glasgow loss the 'worst' of his Munster tenure

As if presiding over a performance Rassie Erasmus yesterday described as the “worst” of his Munster tenure was not painful enough, last Friday’s heavy defeat has further depleted the province’s second-row stocks.

Rassie Erasmus calls Glasgow loss the 'worst' of his Munster tenure

Already feeling the impact of Donnacha Ryan and Dave Foley leaving for France this summer and long-term injuries to Darren O’Shea, Dave O’Callaghan and new signing Gerbrandt Grobler, director of rugby Erasmus is now awaiting the results of a scan Jean Kleyn must undergo today following a bang to his neck suffered in the 37-15 Guinness PRO loss to their Conference A rivals at Scotstoun.

Erasmus speculated yesterday that the in-form Kleyn would not be absent long-term but he also faces losing former Ireland U20 lock Fineen Wycherley to a suspension after the player’s red card late in the game. Tournament officials were yesterday organising a disciplinary panel for a hearing in the next couple of days but the upshot of the further second-row losses is that new short-term signing from Saracens, Mark Flanagan, is in line for a Munster debut against Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park this Saturday (1.30pm), despite only participating in his first training session yesterday.

Kleyn, 24, was not the only casualty from Glasgow. Academy lock/flanker Sean O’Connor also suffered a neck injury while No.8 Jack O’Donoghue and wing Darren Sweetnam both failed Head Injury Assessments and are going through return to play protocols.

The good news for Munster is that Erasmus is set to unleash Lions trio Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Conor Murray against the Blues while fly-half JJ Hanrahan could also see his first action since re-signing this summer from Northampton Saints and rehabbing a shoulder injury. Ireland wing Keith Earls may have to wait another week, though, for his seasonal debut as he strives to reach maxmium fitness following a return to full training after a groin issue.

Second row, however, remains a serious concern with Erasmus saying of star lock Kleyn: “He has got a bang to the neck again. He is going to see the specialist (today). I don’t think he will be available this weekend. It might be a game or two.

“But it’s at that stage of the tournament we were hoping...look the risks we took last week was with the plan in mind that when we strike Europe, internationals would have been two or three games fresh into it, that’s the risk we took. We wanted to get our best guys fresh when we strike that.”

Of Flanagan, who could partner Billy Holland from the start on Saturday, the South African added: “He’ll probably get thrown into the mix. He’s here with us but he’ll only be starting to train with us today because it (a three-month deal) was only sorted out last week.

“We’ve got Robin Copeland who can play second row and Sean O’Connor shouldn’t be out for a long time and hopefully a guy like Jean Kleyn is next week back into the mix. It’s one of those things. Injuries come and go.”

That may be the case but red cards can be avoided and Wycherley’s timing in being dismissed for a shoulder charge by referee Nigel Owens last Friday in the dying minutes of a game already lost appears particularly poor.

Erasmus said: “It’s maybe frustration on Fineen’s side, he’s maybe not accurate enough because he’s definitely not the kind of guy who would hit a guy in the face on purpose.”

Yesterday’s game review made for uncomfortable viewing for Munster’s players with Erasmus describing the Glasgow defeat as “probably our worst performance in the last 40 games. I think the only area we stood up to them this weekend was the scrums.”

The Munster boss is confident Friday was only a blip, however, adding: “Whenever we have lost a game in the last 14 or 15 months we have bounced back. We can’t get all emotional, we are disappointed and it wasn’t a poor performance. We only can rectify that on Saturday, not in meeting rooms or in training sessions.”

With a derby at Aviva Stadium the following week, Erasmus will have been given further pause for thought by news from the Leinster camp yesterday as senior coach Stuart Lancaster said there was “no reason” why the province’s five Lions would not return in Friday’s PRO14 clash with Edinburgh at the RDS. Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Sean O’Brien, Jack McGrath and Robbie Henshaw were set to train in UCD yesterday and are likely to feature for the first time this season.

Sexton has shaken off wrist and ankle issues while Henshaw (torn pectoral muscle), O’Brien (shoulder) and Furlong (thumb) have recovered from their respective injuries. Munster visit Dublin on October 7.

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