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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Munster back Duncan Williams as Murray looks doubtful for final

Simon Zebo’s return-to-play protocols are going well, while Peter O’Mahony is ‘looking fine’.

MUNSTER SCRUM-HALF Conor Murray looks doubtful to make a recovery for Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 final against Glasgow at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.

The Ireland international was injured in last weekend’s semi-final victory over the Ospreys in Thomond Park and though head coach Anthony Foley refused to rule Murray out of the final, he did admit that there is less optimism over his recovery.

Conor Murray injured Murray was injured in Dan Lydiate's tackle last weekend. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Murray underwent a scan on the medial collateral ligament in his right knee yesterday and is scheduled to meet knee specialist Ray Moran at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin.

Speaking about Murray’s situation, Foley was quick to praise the merits of Duncan Williams, who is in line to start at scrum-half should Murray be ruled out.

“Conor got a scan yesterday so we’re waiting,” said Foley at Thomond Park this afternoon. “He’s going to see Ray and from there we’ll get an assessment and a judgement on the damage done and whether he’s available to train on Thursday or not.

“If he is, he is. If he isn’t Duncan Williams will step up and Cathal Sheridan will come into the squad as well.

Duncan has played a hell of a lot of rugby for us this year and he’s played really well. He’s grown into the side and people have grown around him as well in understanding his way of playing. It suits a lot of people.”

Indeed, Williams was excellent after replacing Murray last weekend with less than a quarter of the semi-final win over the Ospreys elapsed. The Cork man also filled in for Murray in January’s crucial pool clash away to Saracens in the Champions Cup.

Immediately after last weekend’s Pro12 semi-final, Foley had indicated some initial optimism around Murray’s knee issue, but conceded today that that feeling had slightly dampened.

“Look, it’s over time as you see the injury, you slow it down, you look at it again and again. You kind of go, ‘there could be a bit of damage there.’ It’s not often you see a player walk off the pitch like that early in a semi-final and they get back the following week.

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Duncan Williams  consoles an injured Conor Murray Duncan Williams replaces Murray last weekend. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“You hope that you get some good news, but if not we’re used to having to make changes. We’re used to having to use our squad and in fairness they haven’t let anyone down this year.”

Meanwhile, Simon Zebo’s recovery from being knocked out in the win over the Ospreys is progressing without any setbacks, said Foley. The Ireland international wing has passed each stage of the return-to-play protocols up until this point.

“He was active today, no symptoms, so hopefully tomorrow he ups the activity level and then on Thursday trains with us,” said Foley of Zebo, who has enough time to fully complete the protocols before the Glasgow game.

As for captain Peter O’Mahony, who was withdrawn early in the second half of last weekend’s game in Limerick with a pre-existing hip flexor issue, the prognosis is similarly cautiously optimistic.

“Peter is looking fine, but we need to see what he looks like after today’s session. We’re minding him at the moment and we’ll see where he is on Thursday.”

Hooker Eusebio Guinazu, flanker Paddy Butler and a number of other players were either restricted in their training or did not train at all today, but such a measure is routine at this stage of the season and Munster have no further injury fears.

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Murray Kinsella

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