Days ahead of Munster’s European Champions Cup semi-final, the province has received mixed news on the injury front.
An RTÉ Sport report states that CJ Stander look set to be ready for the clash with Saracens. However, they also rate Conor Murray’s chances of recovering in time as slim.
Murray has struggled with a shoulder injury since the 6 Nations loss to Wales last month. He hasn’t played since and is still under assessment of Munster’s medical team. Coach Rassie Erasmus will give Murray every opportunity to prove his fitness. In an interview with The Irish Times, he backed replacement scrum-half Duncan Williams to do the job if called upon.
Williams withdrew from the team to play Ulster last weekend late on. However, it would appear that this was merely a precautionary move. Williams was carrying a groin niggle and, with potential Lions scrum-half Murray likely sidelined, Munster were not taking any chances.
On a positive note, CJ Stander is expected back in training today (Tuesday). He sprained his ankle in the Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse. Since then, he has made huge strides forward in his recovery. Munster are now confident that he can feature against the reigning European champions.
There was further good news regarding utility back Rory Scannell. The ankle injury picked up against Ulster is not as bad as first feared. He limped out of the inter-provincial Pro12 game in the 66th minute and sat out training on Monday. However, he should recover for the clash with the English club.
Ahead of the encounter, Erasmus, speaking to the Times, praised the English champions:
“They do it perfectly, probably the best, especially off third or fourth phase, when it looks unstructured and they seem to find structure in chaos.
“We must try and find defensive structure when they’re doing those things. Of course, if you try to figure out what mini-move they’re doing, they have so many different options and they always seem to pick the right one.
“Those will be the kind of things we will try to contain and then, most importantly, when we have the ball we must execute as well.
“I think they started out as a team who suffocated and strangled teams out of life, hope and belief during matches. Now they’ve developed into a team that does that but when they’re on attack they have these almost rugby-league mini moves which seem to come off, then matching that with a great kicking game and great finishers.
“They are one of the most complete teams, I’m talking Southern Hemisphere with Super Rugby, the Crusaders, those kinds of teams, the Brumbies at their best. They are right up there and I think the way they’ve contracted and balanced their squad with foreign players and building momentum, squad size, that’s the team everybody aspires to be like at this stage.”
If Munster win against Sarries, it’ll be the fourth time they have qualified for the final, winning it twice; 2006 and 2008. The final takes place on May 12th in Edinburgh.
Eoin Neylon, Pundit Arena.