Casualties mount up for Munster ahead of Ulster visit

Johann van Graan was left counting the casualties as he turned his focus towards this Friday’s visit to Ulster having lost more players to injury in the 13-6 home defeat to Leinster on Saturday.

Casualties mount up for Munster ahead of Ulster visit

Johann van Graan was left counting the casualties as he turned his focus towards this Friday’s visit to Ulster having lost more players to injury in the 13-6 home defeat to Leinster on Saturday.

JJ Hanrahan, Dave Kilcoyne, Chris Cloete, and Kevin O’Byrne were all forced off during the second half as Munster succumbed to their first loss at Thomond Park in two years.

“Tommy [O’Donnell] also has got a bit of tightness and then a lot of the guys who came off the field that finished it have a few bangs and bruises and we have a few games coming up, so a lot of guys have had a lot of minutes, so we also have to manage them, so a tricky situation but that is rugby,” van Graan said.

“It’s Week 11 coming up in this 13-week block, so get the emotion from this one out of the way, recover and then start again on Monday.”

Van Graan will be able to recall some of Munster’s Irish World Cup contingent for the Guinness PRO14 trip to Belfast with Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony, and Niall Scannell having not played in the first two interprovincials of the festive season. The potential return of O’Mahony (groin) and Conway (HIA) will be assessed, along with the freshly wounded when the squad reconvenes in Limerick. Munster look set to continue without Tadhg Beirne (leg) and John Ryan (calf), both of whom were injured at Saracens on December 14.

“The guys who have had two weeks off will be back on Monday,” he said. “A few (Chris Farrell, Jean Kleyn, CJ Stander) played against Connacht, so they will only be back against Racing (on January 12), so we will have a few guys back on Monday.

Unfortunately, it looks like we will have more guys out than we will have back which in certain positions is key but we will take our time until Monday then reassess and take it from there.

“Obviously Ulster is on fire at this stage, they haven’t lost there for a very long time, so a nice challenge ahead.”

The one bright spot was the return of fly-half Joey Carbery, a 56th-minute replacement for Hanrahan as he made his comeback from an ankle injury he played through the World Cup with.

“He got on a bit earlier than we wanted. JJ was struggling with a stiff hammy, but I thought he did well.

“Obviously it was his first game back in a long time. I thought he read play pretty well, a few good kicks into the corner and one almost line-break, but it will take some time, but really positive to get him out onto the pitch and through 25 minutes of play, so from that perspective a real positive from our side.”

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