Gavin Coombes close to return as Alex Kendellen ruled out

Munster’s reliance on their rising academy stars could continue at Connacht on Friday night after Simon Zebo, Liam Coombes and Alex Kendellen were ruled out of the interpro
Gavin Coombes close to return as Alex Kendellen ruled out

IN CONTENTION: Gavin Coombes (r) is in contention for his first gametime of the season. Pic: INPHO/Ben Brady

Munster’s reliance on their rising academy stars could continue at Connacht on Friday night after Graham Rowntree was forced to plan without Simon Zebo, Liam Coombes and Alex Kendellen for the first interprovincial derby of the season.

The Reds could welcome back forwards Gavin Coombes and Jean Kleyn for the BKT United Rugby Championship clash in Galway after both forwards were cleared to return to training following injuries but wing Zebo has been ruled out with a calf injury, wing/centre Coombes has succumbed to a hamstring problem and back-rower Kendellen will “remain sidelined for the upcoming BKT URC rounds” following a meeting with an independent concussion consultant.

With experienced Ireland wings Keith Earls (thigh) and Andrew Conway (knee) both still sidelined by thigh and knee injuries respectively, and Calvin Nash and Shane Daly on Emerging Ireland duty in South Africa until next week, Zebo and Liam Coombes’ absences may give further opportunity to academy wings Conor Philips and Patrick Campbell, both of whom played 80 minutes in last Saturday’s 21-5 URC win over Zebre Parma.

Philips, making his senior Munster debut, and Campbell, in just his third appearance following two Champions Cup appearances last season, impressed at Musgrave Park, as did replacement academy forwards Edwin Edogbo, a lock, and back-rower Ruadhan Quinn.

Kendellen’s absence, and those of flanker John Hodnett with Emerging Ireland and knee-injury victim Jack Daly, could pave the way for further opportunities for Quinn. Kendellen was also selected for the Emerging Ireland tour only to sustain a concussion on the opening day of the season at Cardiff and though he has completed his return to play protocols the former Ireland Under-20 captain will be given more time to recover under the supervision of the Munster medical department following a meeting with an independent concussion consultant.

There was better news for Gavin Coombes yesterday, the Skibbereen native now in contention for his first gametime of the season following a groin injury while lock Kleyn has completed his return to play protocols having sustained a concussion in the round-two loss at Dragons on September 25.

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