It was a miserable day of injury news for Cian Healy and Joey Carbery, yesterday, as the duo suffered set-backs.
Healy has been ruled out of the remainder of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign after being forced off against England with an injury head coach Andy Farrell described as a “jarred hip”.
The 32-year-old is missing from a 28-man squad that will assemble in Dublin today for a two-day camp. The injury denies Healy the chance to become Ireland’s sixth player to reach 100 caps in this Six Nations. The Twickenham test was his 98th cap and he would have expected two more in the remaining games against Italy and France.
Second row Iain Henderson returns to the squad having been withdrawn from the team to face England because of the birth of his son.
Carbery, Tadhg Berne, and Jean Kleyn, three Munster members of Ireland’s World Cup squad, are facing uphill battles to return to the fray before the end of the season. Hopes that Carbery would be back over the next few weeks were quashed yesterday with the news that the talented but injury-prone number ten had undergone a medical procedure on his ankle.
He had gone to hospital for examination of a damaged wrist that has sidelined him since Munster’s Guinness Pro14 game against Ulster at Kingspan Park on January 3, but it was the ankle injury that he picked up in Japan that most captured the attention of surgeons.
“Joey went in yesterday afternoon in for a scan on his wrist and then the medical advice was that while he’s out with his wrist to do this procedure on his ankle,” explained Munster defence coach JP Ferreira.
“The op went well. We obviously don’t have any timeline or anything like that. It has got to settle and then the medics will come back with an update for us. He is still out with the wrist, so I think the biggest thing is they’ll reassess him now after the operation and see how that went, and then how long it will take to recover.
“Hopefully, it’s in the same timeline as what it was with the wrist and I understand it might be, that’s why he got the op. He won’t be back any time soon, definitely not.”
Ferreira was unable to give any more definite news on the progress of Berne, Kleyn, and Rhys Marshall: “We see them every day and they are looking well but the timeline is as it was previously. It hasn’t changed at all, we have just got to get them ready.”
There is mixed news of the Munster players who picked up injuries in Zebre last week. Wing Shane Daly and another World Cup representative, Niall Scannell, went off early in that game and are now awaiting news of scans while another retiree, Craig Casey, was back training yesterday.
Munster returned on Saturday from Italy where the coronavirus is now a major worry, with numerous potential difficulties for travellers too. “We only had a fever test when we arrived but there was nothing when we left and nothing when we arrived in Dublin”, said Ferreira.
“It might have been totally different if we were going there this weekend. I know of one South African player who went there and has been quarantined and a few games have been postponed. That leaves questions about the points and there’s chat surrounding that at the moment among the powers that be.”
Munster are now preparing for Saturday’s Pro14 clash with Scarlets at Thomond Park (5pm), a game of considerable importance to both sides. They currently stand three points behind leaders Edinburgh in Conference B and three ahead of the Scarlets. Any slip-up at this stage could cost them dearly.
“The Scarlets have always been one of the strongest Welsh sides even now with the internationals out,” he warned.
“This game is massive for us. Obviously beat them at the weekend and we put a bit of space between them. Taking nothing away from the Kings and Zebre, but the Scarlets are a different kettle of fish. They’re a tough side and have threats all around the park and are not going to lie down this week.”
Ferreira clearly reflected the delight felt by everyone in the Munster camp by the confirmation yesterday that their former scrum-half Alby Mathewson has been given a contract for next season by Ulster having been reluctantly let go by Munster before Christmas.
“It’s great for Alby. When he left, he definitely wanted to stay. He had time to go back to his family and reflect. They’re getting an unbelievable man and an unbelievable talent.”