Conor Murray could make Munster return against Zebre
Murray and Chris Farrell could be eligible to play in Sunday's Pro14 match in Italy
Conor Murray pictured at a Munster rugby training session at UL, Limerick on Monday Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
And Johann van Graan’s side have been handed a double boost ahead of their Pro14 clash with Zebre, with centre Chris Farrell primed to end his 10-month injury lay-off.
Both Murray and Farrell took part in full training yesterday with their Munster teammates, and will be in contention to feature this weekend if they come through this week’s training.
Murray last played during Ireland’s summer tour to Australia and hasn’t featured for Munster at all this season due to a neck injury, while Farrell has been recovering from a knee injury picked up on Ireland duty in the Six Nations.
Munster coach JP Ferreira said it was a relief to have the duo back in training, but he sounded a note of caution regarding Murray’s comeback and cited the recent neck injuries suffered by Tyler Bleyendaal and retired South African prop Julian Redelinghuys as warning signs.
“Certainly with Conor you just have to wait out the process and get him strong enough,” said Ferreira.
“He is training as well at the moment. He’s in the same boat as Chris Farrell, training, he’s on the pitch. He has gone through extensive rehab, and getting him physically ready and getting him contact ready.
“We haven’t made a call on [his availabilit], he’s just got to get through training an it’s got to be the all clear for him from us and then obviously the Irish camp has got a big say in that as well.
“Look, it’s like Tyler [Bleyendaal], with a neck injury you can’t take any risks. I’ve been on the side where you have a guy like Julian Redelinghuys, one game and it almost cost him to be a quadriplegic. You can’t take any risks with neck injuries.”
The positive returns of Murray and Farrell were dampened by a hand injury that has ruled Jean Kleyn out of the Champions Cup double header against Castres, although having Conor Oliver, Jaco Taute, Calvin Nash and Ronan O’Mahony in contention is a boost.
A year into his time as Munster defence coach, Ferreira says he is delighted to have the chance to work with Farrell, who has only played once for Munster in his time at the province.
“I did work with him, he had one game against Racing 92 in the U Arena and then he went in to Ireland and got injured in Ireland camp. I only had one game with him. Certainly in the last year I have got to know him, especially on the training pitch.
“He’s been in every single video session, I’ve had one-on-ones with Chris where he sits and he talks with me and we go through some backline defensive set-ups and thing like that.
“Look it’s unbelievable [to have him back]. It’s not just for us but it’s for Ireland as well. Having Chris back on the pitch, getting him training, getting him going again, he is such a big stature and character.
“I’ll never forget, he was actually the first guy that I met when I walked into Munster. I looked at him and thought: ‘A big lock this guy, we don’t have locks like this in South Africa’. And then I heard he’s a centre. That’s just unbelievable, so his stature is massive for the team. It’ll be a big boost for them.”