Donnacha Ryan is poised to go straight into Munster’s starting line-up for tomorrow’s must-win Heineken Cup pool game at Perpignan.
The Ireland lock has not played since suffering strained ligaments in his left knee competing for a high ball in the second half of the European win over Gloucester at Thomond Park on October 19.
Ryan, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday, was initially ruled out for 10 weeks but hopes he was progressing ahead of schedule in his rehab now appear well founded.
On Tuesday, head coach Rob Penney said Ryan’s participation against Perpignan was “not likely” but “not out of the realms of possibility”. Those odds shortened when lock Billy Holland, a substitute for starter Donncha O’Callaghan in last Sunday’s win, was included in the Munster A line-up for tonight’s British & Irish Cup clash with Plymouth Albion in Waterford.
Also unfortunate to miss out is back-rower CJ Stander, named alongside Holland in the A pack after Heineken Cup bench duty last weekend and paving the way for the return to action after 12 weeks on the sidelines of Tommy O’Donnell.
O’Donnell may not shift Sean Dougall from the openside flanker berth just yet following the latter’s try-scoring performance against Perpignan last Sunday but he looks poised for bench duty.
Cathal Sheridan looks set to start his first Heineken Cup game as stand-in for injured scrum-half Conor Murray.
Meanwhile, wing Johne Murphy has admitted he is unsure of his future at Munster with his contract up at the end of the season.
“I’m open to anything, but I’m really enjoying it here,” Murphy, 29, said. “If they were to offer me a contract I would certainly be... it would be something I would be very keen to put pen to paper on. But I’m at the stage now where I have to look at all my options.”
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