MUNSTER COULD BE forced to plan without centre Francis Saili for the rest of the year, with the New Zealander now expected to be out until January.
Saili was forced to undergo a second shoulder surgery in pre-season and was initially expected to be out for ‘up to four months,’ which would have seen him back by December, but his return date could be pushed out further to the new year.
Saili has already been ruled out of the first four rounds of the Champions Cup, but now faces a race against time to break back into the team for rounds five and six in the middle of January.
Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus has already moved to bring in South African centre Jaco Taute to fill in for the dynamic centre, but he is not yet ready to join the match-day 23 for Saturday’s trip to Dragons — he should be ready for a Thomond Park debut against Edinburgh next weekend though.
Taute has been capped for the Springboks in the past and the 25-year-old will bring some much-needed experience to the Munster 12 and 13 shirts, but the loss of Saili is still a big blow, says Erasmus.
Francis will be out until January. We don’t want to get someone for longer than than, and we have to get a quality guy, but we have restrictions over the number of foreigners we can play,” said Erasmus.
“Jaco is the kind of character that will bring a lot to the team and I hope he performs well.”
Munster will also be without the concussed Tommy O’Donnell this weekend, while Rory Scannell’s neck injury should be okay after another week on the sidelines. Stephen Archer is not available this weekend either, while Robin Copeland remains sidelined due to a number of niggles.
Conor Murray and Keith Earls are back in harness this week, after their staggered return from international duty, while CJ Stander and Donnacha Ryan are also available after appearances from the bench last weekend.
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