Munster head coach Johann van Graan fears that the knee injury which RG Snyman suffered in his side’s 43-13 win away to the Scarlets on Sunday “might be significant”.
The 26-year-old World Cup-winning Springboks lock was replaced on the hour within nine minutes of coming on as a second-half replacement when limping heavily as he left the field. It was his third outing off the bench in his comeback after incurring a serious ACL injury seven minutes into his debut against Leinster in August last year.
Last May he underwent a minor procedure after a setback in his rehabilitation. Even though this injury was to his other knee, Van Graan admitted afterwards: “It looks like it might be significant. I’m not going to comment on it at this stage until he’s gone for a scan. Obviously, he’s a very important squad player for us in terms of what he can bring.
“Hopefully we get some good news but it’s pretty difficult to say at this stage. After speaking to him in the changing room, you know, [I am] pretty worried about it.”
Snyman earned a rapturous ovation from the Munster faithful when scoring his first try for the province to cap their comeback win against the Stormers at Thomond Park and give a glimpse of the extra dimension his power, carrying and offloading could add to their game.
The sight of him limping heavily from the pitch in Parc Y Scarlets thus marred an even more impressive victory with such a relatively callow and inexperienced team against a Scarlets side which welcomed back three of their four summer Lions.
“If it turns out to be serious, he’s a phenomenal man, he will get through this,” added Van Graan. “The battles that he’s gone through over the last 15 months, not a lot of human beings can do that.
“He’s got a fantastic wife and family around him and then the club, Munster, we’ll support him whether it’s one week or whatever time it is, he’ll get through this.”
Munster scored three tries in each half to earn their third successive bonus-point win and return to the top of the United Rugby Championship table ahead of Ulster, with Leinster a point further behind as the only three unbeaten sides left in the competition.
“We came here with a specific job in mind and I thought we did that really well. Defensively, I thought we were excellent, stopping them quite a few times five yards from our line
“We only conceded one try from a broken-field chip. I thought we scored some very good broken-field tries and some excellent set-piece tries.
“I felt we deserved our lead and at half-time we spoke about consolidating and we kept going. I thought we did that really well in the second half.
“We coach these players every single day and we’ve been working on this project for the last five years to improve our squad and we believe we are improving every single season.
“It doesn’t matter who takes the field they’ve got a responsibility to the shirt and to come away to the Scarlets and get five points is really well done.”
Next week’s fourth round of matches will see the return of many Irish players who were involved in the Lions tour to South Africa.
In the wake of last Saturday's 43-7 win over Zebre at the RDS, Leo Cullen said that Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw will all come into the mix for their game against the Scarlets next Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm).
It's also likely that Tadhg Beirne, Conor Murray and Bundee Aki will be considered for the first Irish derby of the season when Munster host Connacht at Thomond Park next Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).
Ciarán Frawley and Scott Penny were both taken off with dead legs, and similarly the hip injury which Harry Byrne sustained in the 22nd minute is not expected to rule him out of consideration next week.
Encouragingly, Adam Byrne completed a two-try, 80-minute comeback after a 22-month absence and looked as physically strong as ever.
“He was always a great athlete, Adam, it’s just making sure he uses his physical attributes effectively and it was great to see him back out there,” said Cullen.
“It was such a long time. He’s had to be patient over a very, very long period of time, so it’s amazing to have him back there now.”