Munster welcome back Ireland contingent for Leinster showdown

Carbery, Kilcoyne, Murray and O’Mahony all in line for duty in front of Thomond Park faithful

Joey Carbery, Dave Kilcoyne, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony could all be involved in Munster's crunch URC tie with Leinster at Thomond Park next Saturday (kick-off 7pm).

However, the knee injury Andrew Conway sustained against England leaves him as a short- to medium-term absentee, with Johann van Graan unwilling to speculate as to whether this will rule him out of Munster's ensuing Heineken Champions Cup last 16 two-legged tie with Exeter.

Furthermore, Tadhg Beirne sustained a low-grade thigh injury in Ireland's win over Scotland, Jean Kleyn will undergo a scan on the leg strain which forced his late withdrawal against Benetton last Friday and Simon Zebo is undergoing the return to play protocols.

Mike Haley (knee) has progressed well with his initial rehabilitation while RG Snyman (knee), Jack Daly (ankle), Liam O'Connor (knee) and James French (knee) remain sidelined.

Having the squad reunited in their HPC centre after the Six Nations hiatus generated what Van Graan described as "a real feel-good Monday" this week, adding: "It's the first time we've been together as a squad since January 23rd so there's a great buzz around the place. Everybody is looking forward to not only this weekend but also to the next block of games."

Next Saturday's fixture was originally scheduled to take place behind closed doors on St Stephen's Day but was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid in Leinster's ranks and Van Graan noted: "I think it's the first time in five games that Munster versus Leinster is going to be in front of a home crowd so I'm really looking forward to the atmosphere at Thomond Park. Munster and Leinster games are always special so really looking forward to it."

Tickets sales are so far in excess of 18,000 and Van Graan added: “I’m not sure that it will be a full house, but it’s great to be playing back in front of our home fans at Thomond Park.

“We’ve learned through Covid that rugby is not the same without support and we love playing at Thomond Park and it’s always a special occasion, not only for Munster but for Irish rugby when there’s interpros.

"It's week 41 of our season and we've worked 40 weeks to put ourselves in this position," said Van Graan, whose team sits third, eight points behind Leinster (who have played a game less) and three behind Ulster, and with Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively just two and four points behind.

“That’s what you’re working for, for weeks like this and the next four weeks to come.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times

READ MORE