Munster lock Jean Kleyn has emerged as an injury doubt for Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup pool finale at home to Ospreys, with Johann van Graan insisting his side is still alive in the competition.
Munster need a bonus-point victory over the winless Welsh region at Thomond Park to have any hope of scraping into the knockout stages of a competition in which they have reached the semi-finals in each of the last three seasons.
Ireland international Kleyn may not have any say in the matter, however, after head coach Van Graan revealed the South African-born lock had injured his neck in last Sunday’s 39-22 defeat at Racing 92.
“Jean Kleyn we’re going to send for a scan on his neck. He took a bang there,” van Graan said on Tuesday. “He makes a lot of contact and we’ll know more later in the week on him.”
The Munster boss said Kleyn had not been ruled out of Sunday’s must-win clash and there was also good news on JJ Hanrahan after the fly-half came through 80 minutes in his first game back from a hamstring injury.
“He was fine,” van Graan said of Hanrahan. “His hamstring was fine. He was pretty banged up, they ran quite hard in his channel and he took a bit of contact but he’s fine. Obviously we’ll look after him during the week but no problems with him.”
Aside from doing their own bit to overtake Saracens in Pool 4 and claim second place behind table-toppers Racing, Munster also need the French side to do them a favour and beat the defending champions in London in their final game kicking off at the same time this weekend.
Even that may not be good enough, with several other teams capable of coming out of the other four pools and claiming the three best runner-up spots for the quarter-finals. Van Graan paid tribute to the Munster supporters who travelled in large numbers to Paris last weekend and the 19,000 who have already bought tickets for the visit of Ospreys this Sunday lunchtime.
We’re still alive in this competition, it’s out of our hands and we have incredible support. It’s always brilliant to play here in Thomond Park. The amount of people who went to Racing, the people who were at the airport were all brilliant.
“We were unbeaten for two years here before the Leinster game and even that game came down on a lineout in the last minute of the game. So we’re looking forward to our final game at home in Europe.”
Munster veteran Billy Holland said the players owed it to those supporters to sign off from the pool stages in style after a disappointing run of form in Europe and the Guinness PRO14 that has seen them lose three games in a row.
“Now we’re at home in round six and a few years ago we were out in round four, we lost in round five but put in a big performance in round six. We owe it to our supporters to perform.
“We owe it to ourselves as well, there are 45 squad members and management team as well. It was emotional meeting the fans last weekend after losing. To sell over 19,000 tickets for a game where progress is out of our control is a testament to how loyal our fans are.”