Munster have real back troubles ahead of Toulon quarter-final
Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway and Rory Scannell all doubts for Thomond Park tie
Munster’s Rory Scannell is observing return to play protocols ahead of the European Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon. Photograph: Dan Sheridan
In addition to an already lengthy injury list, Simon Zebo (hamstring), Andrew Conway (knee) and Rory Scannell all remain doubtful for Saturday’s European Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon at Thomond Park (kick-off 3.15pm).
Zebo missed last Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 win over the Scarlets due to the hamstring injury which forced him off half-way through the defeat to Edinburgh a week previously. Speaking from Munster’s High Performance Centre in the University of Limerick as they began their week’s preparations on Monday, Johann Van Graan rated both players 50-50 chances.
Due to the logistics of bringing a disparately based Munster squad together, their training week is Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, with Thursday a rest day before Friday’s captain’s run, and van Graan therefore maintained that, with neither due to train fully yesterday, Wednesday is something of a cut-off point.
Bump or bruise
“I think leaving it to Thursday or Friday is too late. We’ve got a training week of Monday to Wednesday and now we’ve to get through Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you’ve to train at some stage of the training week. That would be too much of a gamble to leave a guy up to Friday. If it was a guy with a bump or a bruise who had played every single game but not a guy coming back from injury, you need them to be part of team training. We need guys who are 100 per cent ready to go. So I guess Wednesday is the cut off date.”
With Munster are resigned to also being without Keith Earls (knee), Duncan Williams (facial), Tyler Bleyendaal (neck), Chris Farrell (knee), and Jaco Taute (knee), van Graan admitted: “We have so many injuries in the backs so we will give him every opportunity to come back.”
In addition, Scannell is observing the Return to Play protocols, while van Graan confirmed that the unfortunate Tommy O’Donnell – who looked in prime form against the Scarlets – has been ruled out of the quarter-final pending a visit to a specialist to determine the extent of a recurring shoulder injury, thus compounding the long-term injury to fellow openside Chris Cloete (forearm).