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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Munster 'err on the side of caution' as Murray pulls up with stiffness

Johann van Graan said the Munster scrum-half could have played against Connacht but they withdrew him as a precaution.

Ryan Bailey reports from Thomond Park 

JOHANN VAN GRAAN says Conor Murray could have played against Connacht this evening but Munster were not prepared to take any unnecessary risks with the scrum-half’s fitness.

Murray appeared to take a knock to his neck during the final stages of Munster’s pre-match warm-up and looked in a degree of discomfort as he made his way off the pitch with head physio Damien Mordan.

Conor Murray in the closing stages of the game Murray on the Munster bench during the game. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

After consulting with the medical team, van Graan ‘erred on the side of caution’ by withdrawing Murray from his starting XV minutes before kick-off, with Neil Cronin promoted off the bench and academy nine Craig Casey called up to the 23. 

The sight of Murray, who appeared to clip his head off a team-mate at the back of a ruck, holding his neck is a cause for major concern for both Munster and Ireland, given the Ireland international’s recent injury profile.

When asked about Murray’s wellbeing post-match, van Graan said it was too early to say whether he will be fit to face Benetton at Thomond Park next Saturday.

“He literally got a knock with the last breakdown of the warm-up,” the head coach explained. “It was a counter-ruck and he took a knock.

“It happened literally seven or eight metres away from me. I got the medical team involved and we made a decision not to play him. He could have possibly played but we decided to err on the side of caution.

“We’ll give some more info on Monday. It’s just very stiff at this stage, that’s all I can say.”

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Cronin was told four minutes before kick-off that he was starting but the Garryowen nine stepped up impressively, producing a lively display to help Munster to a three-try inter-pro win.

It was also a special night for Ireland U20 Grand-Slam winner Casey, who just so happened to be with the matchday squad as a further learning experience in his development.

The 20-year-old replaced Cronin for his Munster debut in the 76th minute.

“We had to make a quick decision and pulled Conor in, he wanted to play, but I decided not to take a risk,” Van Graan continued.

We put Neily on and it was a fantastic evening for Craig, he was just with the squad to experience the first-team for the first time and I asked him was he ready to go and he said ‘coach, I’m 100% ready to go’ and he got his first cap with Munster.

On the fitness of Joey Carbery and Keith Earls ahead of the Pro14 play-offs, van Graan added: “Joey will take it day-by-day and the same with Earlsy. We’ll give you an update on Monday morning.”

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Ryan Bailey

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