Conor Murray has been ruled out for up to four months with an unspecified injury. Murray does not want the nature of his injury to be made public.
Two media outlets are reporting a persistent neck problem but Munster, on the player's request, refused to confirm or deny this when contacted by The Irish Times.
It’s serious enough for the province to be granted permission to sign former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson on a short term deal.
Murray’s last game was the full 80 minutes in Ireland’s series clinching victory over Australia on June 23rd.
Mathewson will arrive in Limerick, if granted a "valid work permit" on a four month deal that could mean Murray misses the opening four rounds of the Champions Cup.
Munster have four other scrumhalves in their squad - James Hart, Duncan Williams, Neil Cronin and academy player Jack Stafford - but Johann van Graan clearly feels that is not sufficient cover for a world class player like the 29-year-old Limerick native.
Mathewson, a 32-year-old journeyman, whose four New Zealand caps came in 2010, has recently played for Bristol and Toulon. He also featured in the All Blacks team that beat Munster 18-16 at Thomond Park in November 2008.
It’s unclear whether Murray requires surgery but the injury has been described as “short term.”
Van Graan did not mention Murray at the weekly Munster press briefing on Monday morning despite being asked about injury updates and when the Irish internationals are due to return.
South African centre Jaco Taute is set to restart his career after being unavailable for almost a year but Chris Farrell (knee), Tyler Bleyendaal (neck) and Chris Cloete (Knee) remain unavailable.
Tommy O’Donnell has a chance of returning from concussion to feature in Munster’s season opener against the Cheetahs in Limerick this Saturday.