Keith Earls back training ahead of Munster’s clash with Racing

Jack O’Donoghue and Dan Goggin being assessed for respective ankle and knee knocks

Munster’s Keith Earls is back in training ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final clash with Racing. Photo: an Sheridan/Inpho

Munster’s Keith Earls is back in training ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final clash with Racing. Photo: an Sheridan/Inpho

 

In what appears to be another major boost in advance of their European Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92 in Bordeaux on Sunday, head coach Johann van Graan has confirmed that Keith Earls has returned to full training this week.

There were fears that Earls’ season might be over when he sustained a knee injury in Ireland’s Grand Slam coronation over England at Twickenham. But while this is the latest in a catalogue of injuries for the winger, who has been playing as well as ever over the last 12 months or so, he has again demonstrated what a good healer he is too.

“Earlsy will be back on the field tomorrow and we want to see how he’s recovered,” said Van Graan, who admitted the possibility of Earls returning would be “a massive boost.”

He added: “He brings such experience and he’s been on fire any time he’s been on the field. He’s looking forward to the week and hopefully he can get through training. It would give guys around him confidence and obviously it would be great to have him if he’s ready to go.”

After departing Bloemfontein on Saturday morning the players returned home late Sunday afternoon, and joined the wider playing group in the High Performance Centre on Monday morning in preparation for Sunday’s semi-final.

Following Friday night’s win against the Cheetahs, Jack O’Donoghue and Dan Goggin are being assessed for respective ankle and knee knocks, while James Hart is following return to play protocols this week.

“Jack O’Donoghue will also be on the field later in the week, so we’ll take it day by day and give guys as much time as we can to make the right decisions and to pick the best team we can for Sunday,” said van Graan.

James Cronin, who sustained a stinger/shoulder injury against the Southern Kings is described as “progressing well” and is expected to return to full contact training this week.

Furthermore, Duncan Williams’ facial injury has healed much better than first expected. The scrumhalf, who was initially ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for an eye, cheekbone and palate injury, will meet with the specialist to review an earlier return timeline.

Tommy O’Donnell (shoulder), Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), Chris Farrell (knee), Chris Cloete (forearm) and Jaco Taute (knee) all remain sidelined.

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