RG Snyman will not be rushed back from injury by Munster, Johann van Graan has insisted, despite his positive progress in rehabilitating a serious knee injury.
The World Cup-winning South African, who joined during last year’s Covid-19 lockdown from Japanese club Honda Heat, was injured just seven minutes into his Munster debut last August, tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament after landing awkwardly from a lineout.
The 6ft 9ins second-row forward has started running again, though, with the 26-year-old posting a video of his first run in six months to his Instagram account.
That development was welcomed by head coach Van Graan during his media conference on Tuesday ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash at home to Connacht but he urged patience for expectations of Snyman’s eventual comeback.
"It was the first time that he ran,” Van Graan said of his fellow South African. “We're very excited for him, he was very excited about it.
“I want to make it very clear that it was only straight-line running, it was the first time that he ran since his injury, so a long way to go for him but a significant milestone in his rehabbing process the fact that he actually ran.
"So that's good news from our side, it means from a medical perspective, we can take the next step in his journey.
"It will still be an unspecified time. I said previously that it would be somewhere between March and June that he will be back. With ACLs, some go quicker than others, and we will just make sure that we have his best interests at heart. Once he's ready for a return, we'll return him to the pitch."
The Munster boss also urged caution about the reintegration of a fit-again Joey Carbery to the starting line-up following the fly-half’s comeback off the bench for the final 16 minutes of last Friday’s victory at Cardiff Blues. It ended 13 months on the sidelines, initially with a wrist injury and then a recurrence of the ankle injury he suffered in the summer of 2019.
“We'll take our time with Joey, each week will be different with him,” Van Graan said.
“Just to put it into context, he has only done squad training up until Friday night which is an actual game scenario where he can get hit blindly, that he's actually got to go out and do something where it's not training.
"He recovered pretty well in that game. We said all along that we will take it week by week with Joey. It's firstly how he feels, then taking the guidance from the medical and athletic performance teams. There's also the bigger picture, it's going to be no good to anybody if we just throw him in straight away in terms of minutes.
"He'll take his time over the coming weeks. The other thing I would like to say is that JJ has been playing really good rugby, Ben Healy has had some fantastic moments, and then you've got two other guys pushing behind in Jack Crowley and Jake Flannery that will get minutes in the coming months as well. Within that context, I'll do what's best for Joey, the team, and all 10s involved."