Dave Kilcoyne returns to Munster with eye on Six Nations
Prop set to feature in Cardiff following knee injury, and may be in line for Ireland squad
Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne and Saracens’ Mako Vunipola face of in the Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium last April. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
The 29-year-old, who featured in the November clashes against South Africa and Argentina, suffered an untimely knee injury in the Champions Cup win over Castres last month.
He missed out on the brief Irish preparation camp in Spain ahead of the opening Six Nations clash with France and, having again linked up with the Irish squad in the build-up to the win over Italy, Kilcoyne has now returned to Munster.
Coach Johann van Graan said that Kilcoyne is in contention to play in the Pro14 in Cardiff on Saturday.
“Dave Kilcoyne is back in camp and hopefully he will be in the 23,” said van Graan, who also confirmed that Ian Keatley and Rory Scannell would also be available for Saturday’s game, having been released from Irish camp.
Van Graan said he was relieved they didn’t suffer any more injuries in Saturday’s 33-5 win over Zebre at Thomond Park, when they eventually pulled away to win in the closing 25 minutes.
‘Bumps and bruises’
“Quite a few bumps and bruises,” said van Graan as he assessed his squad at their headquarters in Limerick on Monday.
“It was a lot more physical than it looked to the eye. We had to make a lot of tackles. We knew that they wanted to keep the ball and it was important for us that they kept the ball in their own half, which I thought we did well. We defended well – we’ve only conceded one try in the last two games.
“I think the weekend showed that in this competition anybody can beat anybody. This was a difficult one to win and one you could easily have lost, so very happy with the five points.”
Van Graan reiterated that these games are the perfect opportunity for players to put their hand up for selection when the internationals return, with the Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon next month coming fast down the tracks.
“We’ve got big dreams for this team for this year and going forward. We said from day one this is a squad effort and in order for yourself to play in the big games you need to perform in, let’s call it, the smaller games.
“So this four weeks is all about improving as a side and about guys deserving their opportunities. We’ll make quite a few changes again for this weekend, use our squad, and we’ve got two Friday games coming up after this one, which will be a short turnaround, so we need our whole squad.
“Guys will go up and down into the Irish squad and this is all preparation for the big games at the end of the season,” added van Graan.