Summer tour fears for injured O’Connell

Paul O’Connell will undergo a scan on his injured knee within the next 24 hours to assess his chances of touring New Zealand with Ireland next month.

There are real fears that O’Connell, who hobbled off early in the second half of Munster’s victory over Ulster in the RaboDirect Pro12 at Thomond Park on Saturday night, will be ruled out of the month long tour and some concern he may even have to face surgery. However, Munster insiders played down that fear last night.

The iconic skipper has been ruled out of Friday's semi-final clash against Ospreys and Damian Varley, with a less worrying ankle injury, is also out of the equation, draining Munster’s already over-stretched resources. Ronan O’Gara should be fit to play after recovering from a dead leg but Saturday’s injuries overshadowed Munster’s victory.

“The medics are in there looking at him [O’Connell] so we’ll get more information on him in the next 24 hours,” said coach Tony McGahan.

“Look, we’ll have to wait and see, he has obviously come off the pitch in a fair bit of pain.

“Varley? Again the medics are treating him and working out what our next port of call would be, so hopefully we get some scans as soon as possible.”

It was most probably McGahan’s last game in charge at Thomond Park but he preferred to deflect attention from himself.

“Actually, we have some long serving players who are leaving, players who put in a great amount of time into the club. For them it was exceptionally special to be part of it and to get the result to let them leave with fond memories.”

Meanwhile incoming coach Rob Penney has admitted his role will, in part, be to prepare Anthony Foley for the head coach job.

“Yes that was alluded to me early on that it’s what they would like to do,” he said on Setanta Sports’ iTalkSport show.

“I really committed that would be part of my thinking. I think it’s really important to have that continuity and the ability to have someone who’s got the experience of European rugby, or established relationships with the group. I basically indicated to them that it would be something that I would be very supportive of, if Anthony was retained.”

He also spoke to Ronan O’Gara and Paul O’Connell.

“I was fortunate enough to have half an hour or so with each of them. They’re very impressive men, and you can see the fire burning in them to get Munster to the forefront of Irish rugby again. They’re very passionate, dedicated rugby men and that was inspiring for me.”


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