MUNSTER don’t expect a definitive report on the calf injury that forced Jerry Flannery out of last week’s Heineken Cup game against Toulon until later in the week.
Manager Shaun Payne admits that they are now resigned to doing without the hooker’s services for the foreseeable future. Flannery is the only member of last week’s 23-man panel not included in a preliminary squad of 28 announced yesterday for Benetton Treviso’s Magners League visit to Thomond Park on Friday night.
“We’ll see what comes back from the MRI scans,” said Munster manager Shaun Payne. Flannery saw a specialist in Cork yesterday so the results of that wont be known until later in the week but Payne stressed, “There is no fellow who works harder when it comes to rehabilitation or gives you more effort so there is great disappointment for him.”
It certainly wasn’t much of a 32 year birthday present for Flannery although there was general delight that Paul O’Connell and Tomás O’Leary were able to operate as water-boys for the Toulon game. As Payne put it: “Paulie’s progressing well and seems to be on track for Christmas. His injury needs to be 100% before he comes back. As for Tomas, he’s six weeks before he’s okay.”
Given the proximity of the November Tests and the restrictions on player appearances imposed by the national management, it is a little surprising that Munster are set to field the majority of their top players against Treviso on Friday. However, Payne stressed the importance of every game and how much the Italian side has come on this season. Munster will discuss with national management how many of the national squad will be available over the coming months but as of now, only Donncha O’Callaghan is approaching his maximum number of matches.
Meanwhile, the respective performances of two 32 year-olds, Peter Stringer and Mick O’Driscoll, against Toulon have delighted every one in the Munster camp.
“Strings was excellent on the back of a very solid platform provided by the forwards”, said Payne. “It was his best game in a long time. We all know he is an excellent player and there has been competition there between himself and Tomás. Duncan Williams has also been very good and it is great that he has had an injury free run and is pushing hard. He offers a little bit of a different threat to Strings and it’s very positive news at scrum-half apart of course from the injury to Tomás.
“Micko was outstanding. He will be most judged on the line-out and that was excellent and around the pitch he put in a tremendous performance. He was absolutely finished when he came off having given everything.”
Munster now turn their attentions to getting their Magners League campaign back on track after the loss to Leinster. They remain top of the table having won the four opening games but Payne is adamant that they won’t be taking anything for granted against Treviso.
“The arrival of the Italian teams has added a lot of spice to the Magners League”, he stated. “Aironi in the first game gave us a bit of a scare and Treviso are a very good side.
“Their (Aironi) strength has been that they play as a team, with very good physicality, good work ethic, good set piece so it’s not so much a team of stars but a proper team from 1 to 15.”
MUNSTER SQUAD (28) — A. Quinlan, B. Holland, D. Varley, Darragh Hurley, Dave Ryan, D. Wallace, D. Hurley, D. Leamy, Donnacha Ryan, D. O’Callaghan, D. Howlett, D. Williams, I. Dineen, J. Coughlan, J. Hayes, J. Murphy, K. Earls, M. Horan, M. O’Driscoll, M. Sherry, N. Ronan, P. Warwick, P. O’Mahony, P. Stringer, R. O’Gara, S. Deasy, T. Buckley, W. Du Preez.
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