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Munster want to give youth a chance before bringing in second row injury cover

Gerbrandt Grobler’s injury has depleted Rassie Erasmus’ resources further.

Academy lock Fineen Wycherley is one of the options available to Erasmus.
Academy lock Fineen Wycherley is one of the options available to Erasmus.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

RASSIE ERASMUS HASN’T ruled out the possibility of Munster bringing in short-term second row cover, but his first preference would be to give one of the province’s young players an opportunity.

Munster’s resources in the second row department are thin on the ground following the news South African Gerbrandt Grobler has been ruled out until next year, while Dave O’Callaghan and Darren O’Shea are also both on the long-term injury list.

Billy Holland and Jean Kleyn have started Munster’s opening Guinness Pro14 games this season, but are the only senior locks currently available to Erasmus, who has also used Ireland U20 international Fineen Wycherley off the bench.

Fellow academy second row Sean O’Connor and Shannon’s Sean McCarthy — who made his debut for the province in March 2016 but missed the entire of last season through injury — are both training with the senior squad.

When asked if he would dip into the market to bring in cover on a short-term deal, the Munster director of rugby said he’ll take stock of the options available to him before looking to recruit.

“I’m looking for a forward to sort it out,” he said. “I’m looking first of all at Sean McCarthy who played a club game on Saturday and Sean O’Connor can play lock as well. Fineen got a few minutes on Saturday against Cheetahs so we’ll look at all those performances.

“Obviously the boys can do the job but experience is always something that will help when we get into the European games so we’ll take stock and try and make the right decisions.

Sean O’Connor catches a line out ball Sean O'Connor is training with the senior squad. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We are a bit thin but those guys are putting their hands up and in January we will have Darren O’Shea back, Dave O’Callaghan back and Gerbrandt Groebler back so we just have to manage the boys carefully that we get to that stage but we are a bit thin in second row currently.”

Having watched a number of players come through and push their case for inclusion with standout performances over the opening two weekends of the new campaign, Erasmus has welcomed the strength in depth now within his squad.

But the South African, who is leaving in December, says one of the big lessons from his first year at the club, and in northern hemisphere rugby, is the need to manage resources carefully and with that in mind, Erasmus says he will look to rotate his squad a lot more this term.

“There a few young guys coming through so it’s no problem having guys of quality there, that’s what you want and the squad understand that we are going to rotate this year,” he added.

“We didn’t really rotate last year. Last year I tried to put the best squad out there to see how far we could go in the competition. This year we are taking chances and we might lose a game here and there. We have to keep guys fresh for 47 weeks so that was the big lesson I learned last year.”

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