Peter O’Mahony will not feature for Munster in Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 clash against Ospreys, according to the province’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
O’Mahony has been out of action since the start of the RBS Six Nations Championship because of a damaged hamstring but was hopeful of making a return this weekend as he bids to come back into the reckoning for the game with France on February 25.
But Erasmus revealed yesterday that O’Mahony will not be risked: “I think he’s still a week away and it would be stupid to push that. He might be ready next week”.
Whether Joe Schmidt will bring a player with such limited game time into a highly competitive area of the Irish pack remains to be seen but the likelihood is that the Munster skipper must bide his time once again.
This is especially the case given the outstanding form of the Irish back-row trio of CJ Stander, especially; Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip.
Not surprisingly, Erasmus is delighted with Stander’s form in the green jersey.
“He is on fire, he is playing well, he is confident and obviously he is comfortable in the Irish set-up and the way Joe coaches him”, he said.
“You can see the guy is enjoying himself. He always has the talent and as long as he is confident and comfortable he will always have good games which is good to see. He is playing well and pushing for a Lions place.
Erasmus continued: “You can see that he is not one dimensional, he has overall developed wonderfully into a player with a variety of skills. While he is very strong and physical, he is also showing some other stuff that shows confidence”.
Erasmus was also delighted with the way Niall Scannell’s career has prospered since his arrival at Munster, culminating in the Dolphin man’s ‘blinder’ against Italy in Rome on Saturday. In fact, he regarded the occasion as a particularly good one from a Munster perspective.
“We had nine guys there including Billy (Holland) as the 24th man”, he smiled. “Niall would have been nervous, a late change, the captain out and he steps in. He was good all over the park.
“That is positive and wonderful for us. That should be such a motivational thing for guys like Rhys Marshall, Duncan Casey and Kevin O’Byrne and all of the other guys that if it happens so quickly for Niall, it can happen to Jack O’Donoghue and all of the other boys who are so close to the national side.
“I am very glad for Niall. He will get much sterner tests. I just think that playing France and England, the pressure will be greater. He is a really calm and confident player and person. He was Ireland U20 captain so he has leadership ability. If he keeps his head and trains hard and stays focused, he will play a lot for Ireland”.
Munster’s run of success continued on Friday night with a 45-17 win over Newport Gwent Dragons. But Erasmus warns against complacency. “A classic example is that we were on a great run and we went to Leinster and got beaten and were on a great run going to Leicester and we got beaten. We certainly won’t fall into that trap of thinking we’re suddenly bulletproof. One can’t forget the drop goals of Ian Keatley and Rory Scannell, the last maul penalty when we played Glasgow. It’s going well and the guys are grinding it out and sometimes it just clicks and it goes well from beginning to end. The season is long, you know, we have eight games left in the Pro 12 and a quarter-final in Europe.”
*A report in the French newspaper Le Figaro that former Bordeaux Begles coach Regis Sonnes, currently enjoying considerable success with Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar School, was set to join Munster as forwards coach next season were dismissed by Erasmus who stated: “I have never met the guy. I have never spoken to him so it’s definitely not true.”
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