Munster hopeful of Peter O’Mahony’s return ahead of trip to Exeter

Ireland backrow missed the defeat to Leinster and Champions Cup draw with Bayonne through injury

Munster remain hopeful that Peter O’Mahony will be fit to make a timely return for their side’s crunch Investec Champions Cup match away to Exeter on Sunday (kick-off 1pm) but Denis Leamy admitted they were not prepared to take any risks with their influential former captain.

Following Munster’s Wednesday training session in their HPC in the University of Limerick, the defence coach said: “Pete did a little bit of training yesterday and we assessed him again this morning. Look, it’s still a bit away from the game but he’s got to go through a couple more days and a couple more sessions before we properly get on top of whether he will be available or not.

“At the moment that debate is still open.”

Given the additional day for a Sunday game, Munster will wait until Friday before making a final call when the team is announced at midday, but Leamy admitted: “Ultimately it comes down to the medics and Pete around that sort of stuff.


“We’ll give him every chance. There’s obviously some requirements he’ll have to come through and in terms of pain management and stuff like that so ultimately we’ll just have to see how that progresses over the next couple of days.

“We obviously don’t want to throw him back in and risk him. It’s a long season. We’ll just have to suss that out over the next couple of days.”

Munster had an extensive injury list for the anti-climactic draw with Bayonne at Thomond Park last Saturday, when missing Simon Zebo (knee/illness), Patrick Campbell (ankle), Shane Daly (ankle), Peter O’Mahony (shoulder), Diarmuid Barron (neck), Oli Jager (leg) and academy lock Edwin Edogbo (neck).

They will all take part in modified training this week and their respective availability will be determined later this week, with Jager likely to return.

Although Seán O’Brien has begun the graduated return to play protocols after being removed for an HIA last Saturday and his availability will also be determined later in the week, Leamy also said he and Shane Daly might be available to increase their greatly reduced back three options, given Mike Haley is a longer-term absentee along with several others.

“We’ve had a couple of knocks there. We’ve got Shane Daly and Sean O’Brien who are just going through protocols around injuries. Bot trained today, both seemed to be moving quite well so we’ll just have to see how they wake up tomorrow. But hopeful both of them could be in the mix for the weekend.”

Munster have demonstrated an ability to bounce back from disappointing European results over the years, back to Leamy’s playing time and beforehand, and will now need to do so again.

“I think it’s ultimately about belief in what we’ve done. We’ve done an awful lot of good things over the last while and there are times when you don’t play as well as you want to but the key thing is that we believe in how we’ve gone to places like this and put in performances.

“You draw on that and ultimately we’re trying to get our scrum, our set-piece, our breakdown, our defensive sets, how we manage our kicking game and putting all that cohesion together. That’s the key thing.

“There’ll be huge belief in the building we can do that. We’ve got some very, very experienced players now, mixed with a bit of youth who bring that exciting edge to them. So you just believe in what we’ve done. It’s never easy going to England, it’s a tough ask but it’s something we’re looking forward to and we’ll just bring our best game hopefully.”

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Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times