Tyler Bleyendaal and Niall Scannell likely to miss Racing 92 visit

‘We were already missing Jaco Taute and Dan Goggin who played a lot for us last year’

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus talks to the media at UL, Limerick on Tuesday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus talks to the media at UL, Limerick on Tuesday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

The outgoing Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is resigned to being without outhalf Tyler Bleyendaal and hooker Niall Scannell for this Saturday’s crunch European Champions Cup game against Racing 92 at Thomond Park pending the outcome of scans on their respective neck and thumb injuries.

“They are going for scans today (Tuesday) and that will be analysed but both of them are pretty doubtful,” admitted Erasmus. “It is a big worry to potentially be missing those guys, especially when you think of Tyler. We were already missing Jaco Taute and Dan Goggin who played a lot for us last year. That’s outside centre and inside centre, Tyler was covering at centre for us as well.

“But it creates some opportunities for other guys. Niall is currently in Irish focus for a national call up so that is the quality that he is. But we have got five good hookers in the club, so I am optimistic that we will be okay.”

The 25-year-old Rhys Marshall is thus in line for his full debut in Europe after making his seventh appearance off the bench in the competition in last Sunday’s draw with Castres with their only registered hooker, 26-year-old Kevin O’Byrne, expected to be named on the bench for what could possibly his first appearance in the Champions Cup.

Ian Keatley, who replaced Bleyendaal last week, is the favourite to wear the number 10 jersey in Bleyendaal’s absence, with JJ Hanrahan likely to be recalled to the squad amongst the replacements.

Nor was Erasmus overly confident of their South African lock Jean Kleyn returning from the neck injury he suffered in the defeat away to Glasgow four weeks ago.

“It’s obviously not as serious as Conor Murray’s injury was,” said Erasmus in relation to the nerve issue which ruled the scrumhalf out of action for two months towards the end of last season. “But it’s the same kind of thing that you wait a little bit for that to calm down. If all of the symptoms go away and you push him a little bit too early it will be a long lay-off. So we won’t be selfish now. It’s 50-50 for this weekend.”

Reflecting on the 17-all draw with Castres, Erasmus said: “I wouldn’t say we were happy with two points, but you think that they could have kicked that last penalty over and we would have only had one point from the game. But then if you analyse the game and see five minutes from the end we could have put the game away, if Ian kicks his kick over the post for a penalty, or a try we could have scored at the end from a turnover. It was definitely wasn’t one of our poorest performances. It (Castres) is a tough team to play away against but there were opportunities which we left on the field.”

Facing into a six-day turnaround, Erasmus added: “We only came back on Sunday evening, and yesterday was our off day with the weather where we couldn’t train. It was a six-day turnaround. We definitely had a good review this morning and you are going to get less and less opportunities as the European Cup drags on. If you didn’t get it right in round one you definitely have to get it right in round two. The opportunities were there. We will work on our execution. We will work on our communication. There were a few opportunities that we didn’t see so we will work on all of those things.

“It would have been lovely to have four points after an away game. But we are still in a position which is really positive. We win this weekend we probably go into the break after the first two games leading the pool. That’s a silver lining to it, a nice full view of it. But then we play Racing; they are a hell of a good team and they will think they can go clear on the top because they won the game and they have four points.”

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