Munster have been rocked by the loss of Jaco Taute for virtually the rest of the season after the South African Test centre underwent knee surgery yesterday.
Taute, 26, was injured in the first half of Munster’s Guinness PRO14 victory over Cardiff Blues last Saturday and, following a consultation with a specialist on Monday, the former Stormers star went under the knife to repair ligament damage yesterday, with his rehabilitation programme expected to take up to six months.
The absence of such an effective midfielder to the Munster cause is a serious blow to director of rugby Rassie Erasmus’s plan, despite him expecting bad news the minute he saw Taute leave the Thomond Park pitch on the back of a stretcher cart.
“Jaco’s been good, but Munster also made him good,” Erasmus said of the player he initially signed as short-term cover from the Stormers at the start of last season. “He wasn’t going through a great patch in South Africa and then Munster helped him come back to where he was.
“It’s going to be a long-term injury, but now it’s the [other centres] Chris Farrells and other guys. There’s a few fly-halves, JJ (Hanrahan) can play centre, Sam Arnold, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls can play centre for us. It’s unfortunate that Dan Goggin is also injured, now, so we’ve actually lost two guys there, but there’s so many guys that can swap positions.
“It’s sad, but Jaco’s a tough guy, he will come back better and he will contribute off the pitch, but it is a loss.”
The bad news also tempered the positivity that followed yesterday’s confirmation that Irish lock Tadhg Beirne would be joining the province for next season on a two-year contract.
The 25-year-old former Leinster product, an Ireland Under-20s team-mate of Munstermen Farrell, JJ Hanrahan and Niall Scannell, will move from Scarlets, where he enjoyed an outstanding 2016/17 campaign as the West Wales region made a late charge to the PRO12 title, hammering Munster in the final last May.
A physical and uncompromising presence in the Scarlets pack, the 6ft 6ins Beirne will seek to mark his return to Ireland by pressing his international claims and the champions’ head coach Wayne Pivac said: “We are disappointed to lose such a quality player and quality person from the group, but fully understand that Tadhg has aspirations to play for Ireland.
“He’s developed well in the last 14 months as a player and we’ve seen the benefits of all the hard work he’s put in since joining the Scarlets.
“Tadhg’s fully focused and committed to continuing his rich vein of form for the remainder of the season.”
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