Johann van Graan hopes to have a number of frontline players back for Munster’s URC quarter-final at Ulster in two weeks but rates Tadhg Beirne’s chances of being one of them as “unlikely”.
Munster’s final-round league defeat at Leinster on Saturday also saw wing Andrew Conway limp out on his return from a knee injury, back-row replacement Jack Daly leave Aviva Stadium on crutches and three players subjected to Head Injury Assessments that will leave their head coach grateful for an extra week to prepare for the knockout stages of his final bid for a trophy before departing for Bath at the end of the season.
The squad will return to training tomorrow at the High Performance Centre in Limerick where Beirne will resume treatment on the thigh injury that has sidelined the Ireland and Lions lock since the Six Nations. Captain Peter O’Mahony missed Saturday’s game with a stinger while Damian de Allende (chest) and Simon Zebo (chest/ribs) also missed out. Stephen Archer was ruled out through illness while Craig Casey was a late withdrawal from the squad for the same reason.
Asked specifically about the chances of O’Mahony, Zebo, de Allende and Beirne passing fit for the quarter-final in Belfast, van Graan said: “Hopefully three of the four. The most unlikely is Tadhg. We will take our time and we won’t put a time onto it. And then Craig Casey and Stephen Archer hopefully we’ll have them back as well and Gavin Coombes, Jack O’Sullivan and Chris Cloete, hopefully they will have had two more weeks (after returning to training last Monday). So yes, we’ve got significant numbers coming back but we’ll take our time on that.”