O’Gara boosts Reds but Varley faces setback

Tony McGahan welcomed Ronan O’Gara back to Munster squad for the first time in a month ahead of tomorrow night’s RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final at Ospreys but revealed Damien Varley’s injury may be worse than first feared.

Fly-half O’Gara’s was yesterday included in a 27-man squad following his recovery from a dead leg sustained in the April 8 Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster. That was welcome news for Munster, who will be without captain and lock Paul O’Connell as well as hooker Varley for the Liberty Stadium clash.

“Ronan trained on Monday, which wasn’t a heavy day,” McGahan said, “he did some extra work on Tuesday and a full session Wednesday and he’ll be well in the mix for selection this week.”

The outlook for Varley is less encouraging, though. The Ireland international sprained an ankle against Ulster last Saturday. It was hoped he would be fit for the final on May 26, should Munster prevail in Swansea.

But McGahan cast doubt on that yesterday: “We need another read of (results) that could point to him being out longer so we’re braced that he could be out for longer initially suspected.”

Despite the absences, the likely return of O’Gara has the Ospreys on full alert as they bid to reach a second Celtic League final in three seasons by knocking out the defending champions.

“He’s definitely a threat, as are the other guys,” Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said. “You look at (Lifeimi) Mafi, Felix Jones, (Simon) Zebo, these guys have threats all over the park and then they’ve got a fantastic set-piece. Our defence is going to have to be at its best as O’Gara, tactically, is a real threat, the way he finds the corners and he runs the game really well.”

Ospreys’ main worry is Wales back row Justin Tipuric, who is struggling with a back spasm that forced him out of last weekend's final league game against Aironi.

MUNSTER squad: F Jones, D Barnes, J Murphy, I Dineen, K Earls, L Mafi, S Zebo, T O’Leary, C Murray, S Deasy, I Keatley, R O’Gara, D Kilcoyne, W du Preez, S Archer, J Ryan, M Sherry, D Fogarty, S Henry, BJ Botha, Donncha O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, D Ryan, T O’Donnell, Dave O’Callaghan, P O’Mahony, P Butler.


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