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'One of the reasons why we got him is he's a true professional'

Alby Mathewson has arrived at Munster in good physical shape, which has pleased Johann van Graan.

Mathewson trained with his team-mates for the first time yesterday.
Mathewson trained with his team-mates for the first time yesterday.

CONOR MURRAY’S TEMPORARY replacement, former All Black Alby Mathewson, has arrived in Limerick and has linked up with his new team-mates but will not feature when Munster travel to Glasgow later this week.

The 32-year-old, capped five times by New Zealand, is waiting on a work permit but with Neil Cronin crowning his first start with a solid display against the Cheetahs on Saturday, and James Hart, Duncan Williams and Jack Stafford all available, coach Johann van Graan has plenty of cover.

Van Graan again stated yesterday at his weekly press conference at the province’s headquarters in University of Limerick, that he was unable to comment on Murray’s injury.

Murray is believed to be suffering from a neck or shoulder injury which has prompted Munster to bring in the experienced Mathewson on a four-month deal.

Mathewson joins after making 19 appearances for Toulon last season but has been out of contract since the end of the Top 14 campaign.

“He left Toulon a few weeks ago and returned to Perth,” said van Graan.

“I’m treating him as an injured player that is returning. He’s in very good physical condition. If you look at him obviously he’s been training on his own. One of the reasons why we got him is he is a true professional, looks after the body very well across his whole career.”

Munster’s early season seems to be all about the number nine shirt with Cronin, younger brother of Leinster hooker Sean, making an impressive first start in the 38-0 win over the Cheetahs.

Conor Murray Murray during Munster's squad session at UL on Monday. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The 25-year-old had made four appearances off the bench — totalling just 15 minutes of action — in a previous spell with Munster in the 2014/15 season, but his impressive displays captaining Garryowen saw him plucked from a teaching career in St Munchin’s and rewarded with a one-year professional contract.

“He has done really well,” van Graan continued. “He will be the first to say that the tempo was pretty high and like I said it is the next step for him. He has come in with a very open mind and a very positive attitude.

“It is his second chance and I thought he took it over the weekend, but this is only week one. There is such a long way to go,” the Munster coach added, who was also pleased with the way Joey Carbery performed in his first game for Munster.

“Joey Carbery to us he is one of our 47 senior contracted players. It was good to get him onto the field, we said we are going to use the squad. Currently we are four out-halves available, we will rotate them, move them around.

“The closer we get to Europe, the closer we will get to the starting 15 and the starting 23, so we were very happy with the 25 minutes or so that he played.

“I thought he slotted into the team pretty well. I also thought that JJ (Hanrahan) played a pretty decent game at 10 and then at 15. Then we’ve got Keats (Ian Keatley) and Bill Johnson available as well.”

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John Fallon

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