RG Snyman to decide on where to spend his ‘six to 12-month’ rehabilitation
Munster’s injury crisis deepens with Springbok star facing up to a year out
RG Snyman training earlier this month at Munster Rugby Squad Training, UL, Limerick. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
If Snyman is targeting the British and Irish Lions Test series – which starts on July 21st next year – the Springboks may insist on overseeing the recovery of their 25-year-old World Cup winner.
“It will be discussed, all options are on the table, particularly with a player of his potential,” said Munster assistant coach Stephen Larkham. “It will be a discussion with the surgeon first to see what’s required and once we get that information, we’ll move forward.”
Either way, year one of Munster’s seven-figure investments has gone up in smoke. Like fellow Springbok Damian de Allende, the 6ft 9in lock signed on a two-year deal.
“It is devastating news for RG,” Larkham continued. “He came over here with a goal to become part of this team and he had been training exceptionally well for us. We had been very excited to have him here as well and he knew there was a fair bit of expectation.
“It is also upsetting for the rest of the team. We were really looking forward to [his impact].”
The loss of Snyman and fellow South African lock Jean Kleyn (neck ligaments) is exacerbated by Munster having to battle on with their current squad despite an injury crisis in several key positions. That is the overriding message from the IRFU high-performance director David Nucifora due to financial restraints created by the pandemic.
“It’s the same for every team over here,” said the Wallaby legend, “it’s the same for every team around the world, really, budgets are tight with restrictions around Covid”.
There are some options. The Southern Kings’ dire financial situation has put their Irish lock Jerry Sexton – the younger but significantly bigger brother of the Ireland captain – on the market.
Another problem is evident at loosehead prop as James Cronin (groin) and Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne (ankle ligaments) are forcing Munster scrum coach Graham Rowntree to switch at least one tighthead across the scrum.
“At the moment we have Boomer [Liam O’Connor] and Josh [Wycherley] training as well,” Larkham added. “We feel we have enough depth there at the moment. I wouldn’t say we are flush with depth. There are guys we are swapping over in the scrum just to make sure that we have coverage for the weekend.
“It’s the same with any team in Ireland at the moment. There is a real shortage of props.”
“We’re not dissimilar to any other team, I know that Connacht are also facing a lot of injuries and faced a lot of injuries over the previous period of time as well, so we’ll get on with it with the team that we have.
“From a secondrow perspective, Tadhg is back which gives us a little bit of depth. Billy Holland is all good. Fineen Wycherley is back as well. I think it is timely for those guys coming back in. We also got some academy players, Thomas Ahern is showing a lot of promise, Paddy Kelly also. Both are good young prospects who we would be very comfortable putting in the main team.”
None of the above are natural tight-head secondrows, and that’s where the power surge comes from.
Joey Carbery’s serious ankle issue coupled with Tyler Bleyendaal’s early retirement means Larkham must also focus on developing local talent at outhalf.
“Short term, no [new signings are allowed] . . . We have got a couple of young guys in the academy if you look from a five eights perspective. We got Ben Healy, Jake Flannery and Jack Crowley who have been training with us for the last couple of months. We have a lot of confidence in those guys. We certainly feel they understand the system quite well so we are quite comfortable putting those guys in if we need to.”
However, during the 27-25 defeat to Leinster, inside centre Rory Scannell provided cover at 10 behind JJ Hanrahan. In the end Scannell finished the game at flanker.
There is some good news as the six players in precautionary quarantine have been cleared to train again.