Munster must take steps to avoid further yellow card peril after trouble in Treviso
Coach Penney claims referee under extra pressure a factor in high card count
Conor Murray, moon boot and all, puts the ball into a scrum during Munster’s squad session at UL, Limerick. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Munster regrouped in Limerick to rake over the coals of how their superb start to the season fell apart with the loss of a 10-point lead in the eventual 29-19 defeat by Treviso, when they picked up four yellow cards.
And while coach Rob Penney said Munster needed to look at themselves and ensure the card haul is never repeated, he also put forward a possible mitigating factor.
Referee Leighton Hodges sent Niall Ronan, Duncan Williams, Cathal Sheridan and Stephen Archer to the bin but Penney suggested yesterday the Welsh official might have been under a bit more pressure than normal.
“It was a day when there happened to be 20-odd assessors in the grandstand, so that causes a degree of pressure, I’m sure, for anyone who happens to be out in the middle,” said the head coach.
“There was a massive language barrier issue. All of those things culminated in probably a degree of pressure which wouldn’t normally be there.
“They were having a conference over there at the same time, so the poor referee was probably under a bit of extra heat.
“We made a couple of crucial errors. They got a bit of momentum and once the tide turned, a couple of yellow cards later and a 10-minute period where we basically gave away 20 points.
“That was the ball game. It was a bit shambolic there for a while.
“Certainly it was a frustration and something we have certainly talked about. There are certain things we can control and some things we can’t. We have to get better at not putting ourselves in those positions,” said Penney.
Meanwhile, Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray will miss Munster’s Pro 12 clash with the Dragons on Saturday with a toe injury picked up training with the national squad at Carton House.
But Penney is confident the 24-year-old will be fit for the Heineken Cup opener against Edinburgh in just over two weeks.
Penney believes Paul O’Connell will also be available for that clash and is expected to return against Leinster on Saturday week from the fractured arm injury which ended his Lions tour.
Murray wore a supporting “moon boot” at the Munster squad session in University of Limerick yesterday but Penney said the injury was not as serious as it looked.
“Conor came out of national camp with a little aggravated toe injury so they have put him in a moon boot when they sent him home. We are just working our way through the ramifications of that, but it doesn’t look like he is going to be available this weekend.
“A moon boot just keeps everything locked up and so minimises the movement within the joints. Hopefully it is not a long-term injury.”
O’Connell is continuing his rehab from a fractured bone in his right arm and Munster coach Rob Penney gave him a better than 50 per cent of playing against Leinster.
“Paul is not far away. He will get another training session in on Thursday. He will have a weights session and a little bit of light rugby stuff today on the back of the national camp stuff he did over the weekend. He could easily be coming into the frame very quickly.
“I would think his chances of playing against Leinster are better than 50-50,” said Penney.
And there could be a further boost for Munster with BJ Botha’s recovery from a knee ligament injury picked up against London Irish in a preseason game well on track and he is also likely to be available for the start of the Heineken Cup, with winger Andrew Conway battling to be ready for this weekend.