Rob Penney has ‘utmost respect’ for Leinster
Secondrow Donnacha Ryan ruled out of Saturday’s derby game with a foot injury
Donnacha Ryan underwent a scan yesterday and will visit a specialist later today.
A foot injury has ruled Donnacha Ryan out of Munster’s RaboDirect PRO12 top-of-the-table meeting with leaders Leinster at a sold out Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
The extent of the injury, which Ryan picked up in last weekend’s 14-3 win over Treviso, has not been divulged pending his visit to a specialist today.
However, the very fact that Rob Penney ruled him out of Saturday’s game five days in advance suggests it is serious enough and must make the lock highly doubtful for their Heineken Cup quarter-final at home to Toulouse, as well, at the very least.
Prop John Ryan also misses out with concussion, after being replaced early against Treviso due to concussion and he will be sidelined until he completes the IRB return-to-play protocols.
Asked about him labelling Saturday’s match a contest between Munster and the Six Nations champions, Penney said: “It’s a comment made with the utmost respect for Leinster, goodness, and hopefully that is the way it has been taken. People can take it any way they want but it was given (on the basis) that Leinster are a great side, and they’re full of internationals. If people don’t like that then I’m not sure what they’re thinking about.”
This has become a fixture close to Penney’s heart, one that he compares with any derby in the world.
“It’s certainly one game that would be very satisfying to win,” he admitted, albeit understandably dismissing the notion that it might be season defining, and adding: “We’re treating this game with the respect it deserves. It’s a local derby, and it’s a massive game for both sides. It has an immense amount of tradition within the game and the passion and parochialism around this game is without peer around the world.”
At the weekend, Penney was also stressing the dangers of his players becoming too embroiled in individual battles, a theme he returned to today at Munster’s media day in Cork.
“Obviously fixtures like this come along with a massive amount of emotional attachment and the last thing you want to do is get overcooked. The sideline, if you like, of players wanting to play their way into Joe’s frame is a dangerous one because it will take guys on an individual pathway that isn’t conducive to having a positive outcome for the team.”
“Within that there are some individual battles. You respect that, and there are some challenges within that, that guys need to step up for. The key thing is that they are focused on what is in the best interests of Munster and their teammates.”
“At the end of the day hopefully they can look with pride on their performance and hopefully it’s good enough to get the points. If it’s not, then at least they’ve done the right thing by the group and the right thing by the jersey.”
In the overall scheme of things, the ensuing Heineken Cup quarter-finals - in which Munster host four-time winners Toulouse at Thomond Park for the first time ever - are bigger games, yet it will be impossible for either side to look at next Saturday’s sell-out in that context.
“The Heineken Cup is important,” said Penney, “but so are local derbies, and this local derby has another dimension added because of the position of the two sides in the table and because of the success Leinster have had in recent years.”
“I would like to think that Munster have clawed their way back a little bit but we’ve got a long way to go and we still want to be as respected as Leinster are. We want to be as good as they are and to do that we have to produce the performances on the field in games like this. So this is an important game for a number of reasons.”
Leinster have this afternoon reported a clean bill of health for hooker Seán Cronin and wing Fitzgerald.
Cronin took “a full part in training” in UCD today after recovering form the knock he sustained in France a fortnight ago, while Fitzgerald “reported no ill-effects from his two-try performance against Zebre”.
Prop Jack McGrath, however, is still being “monitored” after injuring his collarbone at the Stade de France, and the province is awaiting results from a scan on Tadhg Furlong’s ankle after he rolled it in the Zebre win.