Gerbrandt Grobler set for Munster debut on Saturday
Convicted doper will line out for Johann van Graan’s side when they take on Zebre in Pro14
Munster’s Gerbrandt Grobler during a British and Irish Cup match against Nottingham last year. Photo: Daniel Matthams/Inpho
Munster v Zebre, Thomond Park 7.35pm (TG4)
Enough fuss has been made of Gerbrandt Grobler for the IRFU and Munster to issue a statement indicating he will probably play for the first time for the province against Zebre on Saturday.
The IRFU timing could not have been better with most newsprint already full of Six Nations material. Grobler is named among the replacements for the Pro14 match in Thomond Park and in line to make his senior debut.
“While some hold the view that rugby should provide no road-back for those that have taken a banned substance in the past, it would not be within the spirit and values of rugby to turn its back on every person that ever made a bad decision, having made restitution,” said the statement.
Restitution was being caught and banned. The danger, as several players have pointed out, is that being caught and banned could be seen as being permissible, ultimately you can still play rugby in Ireland. The statement goes on to say: “(The) IRFU wish to reiterate that Gerbrandt, as a member of the Munster squad and living by our values, will continue to be considered for selection during his time with the province, once deemed fit.”
The IRFU statement continued: “Irish Rugby is recognised as operating one of the most stringent testing environments of any rugby nation with a zero tolerance approach to doping in the sport.”
Grobler served his two-year ban before returning to play for Racing in November 2016 and began in Munster this season. The decision to sign him has come under fire from former international players including Gordon D’Arcy and Chris Henry.
However, Munster and Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray supported his teammate in January.
“It’s affecting him badly, all the stuff people have been saying and writing and going after the club,” said Murray at the time. “It’s a time we need to remain tight and ignore this shit, and it is shit. It is people creating something.”
MUNSTER: S Zebo; D Sweetnam, S Arnold, D Goggin, A Wootton; JJ Hanrahan, D Williams; J Cronin, N Scannell, B Scott; J Kleyn, B Holland (c); J O’Donoghue, C Oliver, R Copeland.
Replacements: K O’Byrne, J Loughman, J Ryan, G Grobler, D O’Callaghan, J Poland, I Keatley, R Scannell,
ZEBRE: C Gaffney; G Di Giulio, G Bisegni, F Afamasaga, G Venditti; S Bordoli, G Palazzani; C Ah-Nau, T DiApice, E Bello, D Sisi, G Biagi (c), R Giammarioli, J Meyer, J Tuivaiti.
Replacements: L Luus, A De Marchi, R Tenga, L Krumow, D Minnie, R Raffaele, M Azzolini, R Parata.
Referee: S Brickell (WRU).