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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 17 March, 2018

Van Graan dismisses suggestion Munster have a discipline problem

The province have picked up six yellow cards and a red since the South African took over in November.

Van Graan pictured during squad training at UL on Wednesday.
Van Graan pictured during squad training at UL on Wednesday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

JOHANN VAN GRAAN doesn’t believe Munster have a discipline issue despite a run of six yellow cards and a sending-off in the six games since he arrived in Ireland.

Those decisions have brought their tally of cards to nine yellow and three dismissals for far this season, and with all but two of the yellow cards coming in the Pro14 they find themselves bottom of the Fairplay League.

And while van Graan said that all of the decisions are down to individuals, the matter was addressed when the squad assembled in Limerick yesterday morning to prepare to take on Connacht on Saturday following the consecutive defeats to Leinster and Ulster over Christmas.

In that disappointing loss in Belfast on New Year’s Day, the southern province had centre Sam Arnold sent off and replacement lock Fineen Wycherley — who also received red against Glasgow earlier in the season — sent to the bin during a second-half capitulation.

“I don’t think it’s a necessarily a squad discipline issue,” the head coach said. “You have to look at the incidents themselves.

“I thought Sammy had a fantastic few weeks. I thought he was one of the in-form players in Ireland. He went out to make a hit on Christian (Lealiifano). He hit him really hard, this is a collision sport. Unfortunately, he hit him and his shoulder slid up and hit Christian in the face.

“Like I said after the game, he left the referee no choice. Player welfare is very important.

“Fineen, a 20-year old lock, gets his opportunity away from home, replacing Billy Holland that has played 175 games. I thought he did really well, he just rolled into their tunnel. If you see the picture, it’s very difficult for the referee not to yellow card him.

“We’ll learn. We spoke about it as a squad. We have to learn from these incidents. We put ourselves under pressure.”

Van Graan, meanwhile, has a number of injuries as he bids to prevent a third derby loss in 12 days, with growing concern over the shoulder injury picked up by flanker Tommy O’Donnell, who missed the November internationals with the same problem.

A scan is expected to reveal the extent of the problem.

Billy Holland, who has started every game this season, is out with a HIA, with flanker Chris Coete and hooker Rhys Marshall ruled out for a similar reason.

Hooker Niall Scannell (ribs) and winger Calvin Nash (hip) are also unlikely to feature.

But there is some good news for van Graan with recently capped Chris Farrell set to make his comeback this weekend from a knee injury picked up against Argentina, while loosehead prop James Cronin has recovered from cramp suffered against Ulster.

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