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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 29 May, 2020

Concern over Munster's scrum-half options as Mathewson forced off

The All Black suffered a leg injury against Leinster.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

MUNSTER WILL ANXIOUSLY wait to discover the severity of the leg injury suffered by Alby Mathewson in the closing stages of last night’s defeat to Leinster, with the province’s scrum-half resources already stretched.

All Black Mathewson was replaced in the 76th minute by Duncan Williams at the Aviva Stadium and while it was initially thought he was suffering from cramp, Johann van Graan confirmed afterwards that the problem could be more serious.

Alby Mathewson Mathewson was replaced after Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

With Conor Murray sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury, Neil Cronin out with a shoulder problem and James Hart also nursing a knee complaint, Munster can ill-afford to lose Mathewson for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Exeter Chiefs.

The 32-year-old, who was signed on a short-term deal as injury cover, made his Munster debut in last week’s win over Ulster after his work permit was granted five weeks after his arrival. 

Mathewson provided a glimpse of his quality in that 50-minute cameo and was again impressive against Leinster, marking his second appearance with a first Munster try in the second half.

His availability has become essential amid Murray’s continued absence, and Munster won’t want to head into the forthcoming Pool 2 clashes with Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester with Williams as the only senior scrum-half.

“We took him off because of an injury,” Van Graan said, when asked for an injury update.

“Our medical team are currently looking at him and hopefully, we will know more on Monday.”

While a fourth straight defeat to Leinster will come as a bitter disappointment for the southern province, particularly when they enjoyed so much of the ball, there were at least signs of encouragement in their multi-phase play and excellent running game.

Dan Goggin continued his excellent early-season form, and certainly put his hand up for selection next week with a number of big carries in midfield.

“I thought he did really well,” the Munster head coach continued. “I thought he dominated the gain line. I thought his decision-making was pretty good and caused their 10/12 channel quite a bit of a headache.

“We are going to alternate our centres and alternate our squad but like I said before, this was a real 23-man effort tonight. Very disappointed to come out losing this game because I saw the effort that the players put in during the week but we got beaten by a better side.”

Meanwhile, Leo Cullen was relieved to report Leinster came through the physically-demanding derby fixture relatively unscathed, with Ross Byrne’s late withdrawal down to cramp. 

“Devin [Toner] took a bit of a knock at the end but he was getting some treatment but he was fine to continue for the last few minutes,” the Leinster head coach said.

“Jamison [Gibson-Park] had a bit of a roll on his ankle but I think he’s okay.”

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Ryan Bailey

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