Cloete back in Munster mix after head injury but Marshall undergoes surgery

The hooker has had a procedure to remedy a knee issue.

MUNSTER BOSS JOHANN van Graan says openside flanker Chris Cloete is available for selection again after overcoming a head injury.

The 28-year-old back row hasn’t played since Munster’s Pro14 clash with Ulster on 9 November, missing their three Champions Cup games in recent weeks due to his head injury.

chris-cloete Cloete has returned to training ahead of the clash with Saracens. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

But van Graan has welcomed Cloete back to team training in the same week that back row Arno Botha is facing a ban at a disciplinary hearing tomorrow following his red card against Saracens at Thomond Park last weekend.

“Chris is available again,” said van Graan at Munster’s training base in Limerick today.

“We’re very glad that he’s available for selection. He only joined team training yesterday.

“We’ll wait to hear what comes from Arno’s hearing,” added the Munster boss.

However, there is more bad news on the injury front for the southern province’s fans, with hooker Rhys Marshall forced to go under the knife last week to remedy a knee injury, meaning he joins fellow front row players Dave Kilcoyne and Jeremy Loughman on the list of absentees ahead of Saturday’s return clash with Saracens at Allianz Park.

“Dave Kilcoyne is still not available, Jeremy is out for a considerable amount of time,” said van Graan. “Rhys also joined that list, so another front row player out at this stage.”

Out-halves Joey Carbery and Tyler Blyendaal are among the other sidelined players, with the Ireland international seemingly targeting a return against Leinster in the Pro14 on 28 November, while Bleyendaal will be out for an undefined period with a neck issue.

Prop Ciaran Parker [calf] and wing Darren Sweetnam [hamstring] are the other two senior players currently out injured.

Van Graan still has a strong squad to choose from ahead of the return clash with Saracens, as Munster look to pull off a huge win on the road.

“It’s a great challenge ahead,” said van Graan. “The beauty of European rugby is the doubleheader back-to-back and I think we’ve actually got more analysis to do this week because both teams have gone at each other and you’ve got to decide what do you keep and what do you change.

“We are playing against the very best team in Europe currently so they’ve got so much quality within their squad and what they do.

“I think both teams couldn’t really show everything they had on the weekend because you only 40 minutes to do what you wanted with ball-in-hand, just because of the conditions in the second half.

“So, massive challenge ahead. It was evident when the draw came out that it was going to be a brilliant two weeks in terms of the challenge.

“A lot of times you can’t say, ‘It doesn’t get bigger than this’ but in terms of European rugby, going to London on Saturday afternoon against Saracens, they’re currently the best so looking forward to seeing where we are.”

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