Graham Rowntree whetted the appetite of Munster supporters desperate for the return of RG Snyman from long-term injury by describing the giant South African lock as looking “fit, big and scary”.
The Munster forwards coach was reacting to the province’s squad update issued earlier on Tuesday when the 6ft 9ins Snyman, who ruptured an ACL on his Munster debut last August, was slated for a possible return to full squad training next week having progressed to the “final stages” of his rehabilitation programme.
That would be a significant upgrade in the South African World Cup winner’s status following a seven-month recovery process and Rowntree, speaking ahead of Munster’s Guinness Rainbow Cup opener at Leinster on Saturday, said: "He's not got any smaller, that's for sure.
“He's fitting in nicely, he has been in and out doing a few bits of scrummaging, not full eight-on-eight stuff, and contact work with us this week. We'll progress that.
"A lot of this stuff, we have to see how he reacts to every change of level we put him through. He's getting well managed, looks fit, looks big, looks scary. We're delighted to have him back in next week, hopefully, for full training."
Munster may have Irish international forward Tadhg Beirne available this weekend for the trip to the RDS. Six Nations player of the championship nominee Beirne has returned to training following a rib injury he sustained in the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 defeat to Toulouse a fortnight ago and will be in contention for selection for Saturday.
Lock Thomas Ahern is unavailable for training this week as he continues to rehab a knee injury, while fellow academy forward, prop Josh Wycherley (neck) will increase his training load with a decision on his availability for Saturday’s match to be made later in the week.
The Munster squad update came as media reports cast doubts on South African side's competing in the inaugural Rainbow Cup which is due to begin on Friday evening when the Stormers host the Sharks in Cape Town followed by Ulster’s derby with Connacht at Kingspan Stadium.
The four South African “Super” franchises are scheduled to play in the Northern Hemisphere in the final three rounds of the Rainbow Cup starting at the end of next month but sources described the period of uncertainty over whether teams will be allowed to travel to Europe as “incredibly frustrating”, “absolute chaos” and “terrible times”.
Meetings were continuing on Tuesday but it’s feared that franchises will be informed they will not play this weekend.
The existing PRO14 teams, though, look set to press on with their Rainbow Cup fixtures and Rowntree signalled Munster’s competitive intent ahead of the first of three interprovincial derbies starting this weekend.
Asked what the province wanted from the new tournament, he replied: "Winning. Winning. Winning.
“Win the competition whatever form it takes. That means winning week by week. We've got our old mates this weekend to start the competition off so it's a good opportunity to look at different combinations, but we're taking it as seriously as we would any other competition. I mean that, that's not just small talk from me. We are taking this very seriously."