Munster colleagues back RG Snyman to return from latest injury nightmare

Jean Kleyn: ‘He’s probably one of the most mentally tough guys I have met’

Munster issued a relatively positive injury bulletin on Wednesday, what with Liam O'Connor returning to training and John Hodnett having completed his long-awaited return to action with UCC in their defeat by Garryowen last Saturday after almost a year on the sidelines.

The 22-year-old from Roscarberry, a product of Clonakilty RFC, was an ever-present in the Ireland under-20 Grand Slam in 2019 and it’s a measure of the management’s belief in Hodnett’s undoubted abilities that he was promoted to a full contract this season despite suffering a torn Achilles tendon in training last November.

While O'Connor comes back into the selection mix for next Saturday's first URC interpro derby of the season when Munster host Connacht at Thomond Park on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm, live on RTÉ and Premier Sports), Jason Jenkins and Keynan Knox remain sidelined.

Jenkins sustained a thigh injury in training last week, while Knox suffered a low-grade hip injury following last Saturday week’s win over the Stormers.

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Rowan Osborne is currently following the graduated return to play protocols following a concussion, while Roman Salanoa (knee) and Chris Farrell (abdomen) remain sidelined. There has been no indication as to when their two Lions, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray, might return, with only the following week's trek to the Ospreys before the first of the November Test against Japan on November 6th.

But, of course, this week’s medical updates form Munster remain overshadowed by the confirmation that RG Snyman had re-ruptured his ACL in last Sunday’s impressive win away to the Scarlets.

“Obviously everybody around him is really gutted for RG,” said defence coach JP Ferreira on Wednesday. “But he’s mentally pretty strong. He went through a lot last season already so he knows what he has to do and one thing he wants to do is stay closer, he doesn’t want to be excluded from the group, he wants to be involved in whatever capacity he can and then obviously rehabbing and getting him ready again.”

Snyman's fellow South African-born lock, Jean Kleyn, echoed those sentiments when he said: "He's probably one of the most mentally tough guys I have met. He has had an horrific last 12 months and then to top it off he plays 30 or 40 minutes of rugby and then it happens to him again.

“The resilience he is showing from a mental standpoint is outstanding. He is still in a very positive mindset. He is in a dark place, but who wouldn’t be? You have to take it day by day. As he progresses we will see how long it takes and we are all raring to see him back as soon as possible.”

Snyman’s two-year contract finishes at the end of this season and Kleyn, who is now entering his sixth season with Munster, is assuredly not alone in hoping that the World Cup-winning Springbok stays on with the province.

“I think everyone would. Excluding the fact that he hasn’t played a whole lot of rugby, he has really contributed to the team in a really big way, from a rugby standpoint, in terms of knowledge, and in a cultural standpoint in terms of his contribution to the squad and how we interact with each other.”

As to how much Snyman’s squad-mates can do for him, Kleyn said: “There’s a balance with everything. Every person needs time to process any kind of loss and for him it was a loss. Everyone gave him and his wife their space for a bit to process it and then I’d say he was probably overwhelmed with support.

“He’s a very popular guy here. I’d say there wasn’t a fella who wasn’t disappointed for him. I’d say everyone will support him in their own way and wherever they can. It’s limited with him being on a different training schedule to us for the next however many months.”