Munster to give Conor Murray injury update on Monday

Van Graan says decision to pull scrum half from Connacht match was safety first

Johann van Graan was unable to reveal the full extent of Conor Murray's apparent neck injury pending further examination, and said Munster would give a clearer update at their press briefing on Monday morning.

The Munster head coach was only seven or eight metres away from the warm-up drill when Murray was counter-rucked, thus forcing his withdrawal from Munster’s win over Connacht in Thomond Park, although van Graan did say they erred on the side of caution.

“He literally got a knock in the last breakdown of the warm-up. It happened literally seven or eight metres away from me. I got the medical team involved and we made a decision not to play him.

“He could possibly have played but we decided to err on the side of caution and we’ll give some more info on Monday. It’s just very stiff at this stage. That’s all I can say.”

Murray, of course, missed the first four months of the season with a neck problem and asked if the injury, or stiffness, was to the neck or head area, Van Graan: “Yeah, he just took a knock. It was a counter-ruck and he took a knock.”

Neil Cronin was informed that he would be starting about four minutes before the team went back out on the field for the kick-off.

"We had to make a quick decision. Do you take a risk? And we decided against it, and pulled Conor. He wanted to play and I decided not to take a risk, and put Neily on, and then it was a fantastic even for Craig," said Van Graan, as the ripple effect meant a debut for Irish Under-20 Grand Slam-winning scrum-half Craig Casey, the Shannonman having turned 20 last week and was with the squad to some extent by chance.

“He was just with the squad to experience the first team squad for the first time. I said: ‘Craig are you ready to go?’ And he said: ‘Coach, I’m 100 per cent ready to go.’ And he got his first cap for Munster.”

As regards next Saturday’s quarter-final against Benetton in Thomond Park, and whether Murray should be available, van Graan said: “Well, give you more info on Monday. Like I said, it’s straight after the game.”

As for Joey Carbery (hamstring) and Keith Earls (leg), who both missed the Heineken Champions Cup semi-final defeat by Saracens, Van Graan said: "With Joey, like I said, we'll just take it day by day. As soon as he become available we'll let you know and the same with Earlsy. We rested a few guys as well tonight, and we'll give you a better update on Monday."

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Andy Friend said he was "disappointed with the loss" but added he was "quite pleased with some of the performances out there."

“I thought we didn’t stop trying. There were moments when we could have been a bit more clinical without a doubt, moments where probably lapses in concentration and lapses of execution hurt us again.”

“But I thought for a very mixed-up team that we put out there, they fronted up. Munster at Thomond Park, you know it’s a tough one. We knew it was going to be physical and we matched that battle on the whole tonight. Whilst it’s a loss, that’s the end of the regular season, and now we can focus on Ulster,” said Friend in reference to next week’s quarter-final.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times