Munster are striving to get Donnacha Ryan and Johnny Holland fit as they prepare for a season-defining game with Edinburgh in Cork on Friday week.
After last weekend’s loss to Connacht it is imperative Munster beat the Scottish club — who are above them in the PRO12 table — at Musgrave Park in order to maintain their grip on the final Champions Cup qualification spot.
Ireland second row Ryan and rookie out-half Holland were both forced off the pitch at the Sportsground last Saturday night after sustaining blows to the head and Munster reported yesterday that the pair are undergoing return to play protocols. If the players pass through the protocols in the normal time frame (seven days) they should be available to coach Anthony Foley, who desperately needs to close out the season with two positive results.
Ryan’s injury prevented him from taking part in a 24-hour camp organised by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt in Meath on Sunday, but Keith Earls, Dave Kilcoyne, Conor Murray, Tommy O’Donnell, Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Simon Zebo were all in attendance.
However, Ryan and Holland aren’t the only injury concerns for Foley. Dave O’Callaghan is dealing with bone bruising on his knee while Dave Foley is recovering from an ankle ligament injury and it is not yet known if either player will be available to face Edinburgh. Tickets for the game in Cork, starting at €20 for adults and €7 for juniors are on sale at Musgrave Park, Thomond Park www.munsterrugby.ie as the province lauches its ‘Last Stand’ promotion to ensure a hostile environment for Edinburgh.
Regarding the six players on the long-term injury list, the trio of O’Mahony, BJ Botha and Kevin O’Byrne are working through their rehabilitation from knee injuries while Tyler Bleyendaal (quad), Marc Chisholm (concussion) and Denis Hurley (calf) are in a race against the clock to feature again this season.
There was some positive news in the form of one-year contract extensions for prop Peter McCabe and winger Alex Wootton, who will remain at the province until June 2017.
McCabe has recently recovered from a pectoral tear and the 24-year-old has impressed enough for Munster A and on club duty with Dolphin to earn a further year on his development deal.
The English-born Wootton, who has represented Ireland Under 20s and Sevens teams, has been in fine form for Garryowen this season and becomes the fifth player to graduate from the Greencore Munster academy this year.
On the club front Munster will have a representative in the Ulster Bank League final on May 8 with Cork Constitution and Young Munster squaring off at in the semi-final at Temple Hill this weekend. Eight players from Munster’s academy – Ned Hodson, Ryan Foley, Tomás Quinlan, Liam O’Connor and Rory Burke (Cork Con) alongwith Dan Goggin, Gearoid Lyons and Ben Kilkenny (Young Munster) – were all involved for their respective clubs last weekend and will be aiming to be involved in the semi-final.
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