New Munster boss Rassie Erasmus has found himself in the midst of an injury crisis at fly-half, with only Ian Keatley apparently ready to start the season.
Director of rugby Erasmus is hoping Tyler Bleyendaal and Johnny Holland, head coach Anthony Foley’s first choice No 10 towards the end of last season, can prove their fitness during the next two or three weeks.
Ireland U20 out-half Bill Johnston is also unavailable for at least the next two months.
If Bleyendaal or Holland’s conditions do not improve by the time of Munster’s warm-up games on August 19 against Zebre and August 26 against Worcester, the South African said he may be forced to look at making a signing.
“We do (have a concern) because Johnny has got a hamstring that’s been there for a while and because Tyler has got that (quad). Keats is there and Billy Johnston played for the U20s and he got a shoulder,” said Erasmus.
“We are thin there but if Johnny and Tyler can be ready for next week. That’s up to three guys and Billy is ready in two months.
“In the next two or three weeks, I will look at it and say, ‘OK it’s a serious thing, the guys are not reacting to the injury’, but I’m confident.”
New Zealand U20s fly-half Bleyendaal, 23, has played just five times for Munster since joining from Canterbury in January 2015, having delayed his arrival following a neck injury.
His quad injury, which has kept him sidelined since December, has been a serious frustration but Erasmus believes there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Kiwi.
“Tyler’s still (recovering from) the quad injury. He’s training most of his training sessions with us and after the Zebre game, if everything goes to plan, the Worcester game he’ll be ready. He should be ready for the Worcester game, he’s very close.”
Fly-half is not the only position Munster may be short-handed when their Pro12 campaign begins at Scarlets on September 3. All Blacks centre Francis Saili is completing his recovery from shoulder surgery in May, while Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony may miss out as he puts the finishing touches to his rehabilitation from knee surgery last October.
“The standout names who are in doubt for the first few games are Francis Saili who would be touch and go, Peter would be touch and go, then the international guys that played the Test matches, a few of them will only be in the mix from the third game. Donnacha Ryan has a (sinus) issue which should clear up for the first game.”
Of O’Mahony, Erasmus said: “We won’t push it, we will be conservative with him because he is such a leader in the team. It’s a long few months ahead.”
Mark Chisholm, the former Wallabies lock who was stood down last January due to concussion concerns, has still not been passed fit to play. Erasmus said: “Mark has got a concussion. It’s a medical thing we’re all waiting on. It’s tough to give an answer on that. It’s the same as last year at this stage.”
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