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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 21 October, 2018

Injury setback for Munster and Ireland as Scannell undergoes thumb surgery

The hooker faces an extended period on the sidelines.

Scannell sustained the injury against Castres.
Scannell sustained the injury against Castres.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

NIALL SCANNELL FACES a race to be fit for Munster’s crucial Champions Cup double-header against Leicester Tigers after today undergoing surgery on the thumb he damaged in Castres.

The hooker, who missed the weekend’s win over Racing 92, is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks and has been ruled out of Ireland’s three November internationals.

With Rory Best only returning to competitive action off the bench for Ulster yesterday, the news further reduces Joe Schmidt’s options for the first Test against South Africa on 11 November.

Sean Cronin has featured eight times for Leinster this season and is the most likely to benefit from Scannell’s absence, while James Tracy and Connacht’s Dave Heffernan are the alternatives.

Scannell made his Ireland debut in last year’s Six Nations victory over Italy and was Schmidt’s first-choice hooker during the summer tour of USA and Japan, starting two of the three games.

His absence will also be keenly felt by Munster, although Rhys Marshall is a more than able deputy as he showed in the nail-biting victory at Thomond Park on Saturday. Duncan Casey, Kevin O’Byrne and the fit again Mike Sherry are also available to Rassie Erasmus.

The southern province head to Galway for their Pro14 interpro against Connacht on Friday night before rounding off the first block of fixtures with a home game against Dragons in Cork.

With an initial prognosis of six to eight weeks on the sideline, Scannell should come back into contention when Munster resume their campaign in early December, with fixtures against Ospreys and then the back-to-back European clashes with Leicester.

The other casualty from the opening rounds of the Champions Cup, Tyler Bleyendaal, will this week be ‘managed’ by the province’s medical team for the troublesome neck problem which kept him out of the Racing showdown.

Apart from the usual bumps and bruises, Munster were able to report an otherwise clean bill of health as attention switches back to Pro14 matters with Jean Kleyn coming through his return on Saturday unscathed.

Gerbrandt Grobler (ankle), Conor Oliver (shoulder), Dan Goggin (knee), Ronan O’Mahony (fibula), Dave O’Callaghan (knee) and Jaco Taute (knee) all remain long-term absentees.

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Ryan Bailey

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