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Hanrahan returns to Munster training ahead of huge clash with Racing

Meanwhile, Stephen Larkham paid tribute to Alby Mathewson ahead of his departure.

JJ HANRAHAN AND Rhys Marshall have returned to Munster training this week ahead of Saturday’s huge Heineken Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 at Thomond Park.

Out-half Hanrahan missed last weekend’s bonus-point win away to the Ospreys due to a hamstring injury but is hopeful of making a comeback against the Top 14 side.

Tyler Bleyendaal wore the number 10 shirt in Swansea last time out, with Munster opting against naming a second recognised out-half in their matchday 23 with Joey Carbery also out injured.

jj-hanrahan Hanrahan has returned to training with Munster. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

While Hanrahan’s return to training is a positive for Munster, senior coach Stephen Larkham cautioned that the Kerryman would have to complete the full week’s schedule to convince the coaching staff that he is ready for a comeback on the pitch.

Hooker Marshall has been sidelined with a knee issue but is making positive progress too.

“Our injury list at the moment is actually pretty good, there’s only five guys on the injury list,” said Larkham at Munster’s training base in Limerick today. “Touch wood, we keep those numbers pretty low throughout the rest of the season.

“JJ and Rhys are fully reintegrated back into training today but it’s the back end of their rehab programme, so we need to make sure that they come through today and then come through Thursday before they are considered for selection this weekend.”

Dave Kilcoyne remains out of action with a calf injury and Munster have not provided a timeline for his expected return, while Chris Cloete [head injury], Ciaran Parker [calf], and Darren Sweetnam [hamstring] are also currently out injured.

Meanwhile, Ireland international Carbery continues to rehab the ankle injury he returned from the World Cup with, an issue that will keep him sidelined for some weeks yet.

“He’s progressing really well,” said Larkham of Carbery. “The way I understand it is that we are going to take it slow because there was a fair bit of damage there.

“He had a really good week last week, which is not to say it’s going happen again this week. Everything is on track for the timeline that we had given him in the first place.

“He’s not playing this weekend, he’s not ready. We’ll reassess him next week to see how he goes and likewise the following week.”

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alby-mathewson Mathewson is heading for the exit door after Saturday's game. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Munster confirmed yesterday that Kiwi scrum-half Alby Mathewson’s 15-month stint with the province will end with Saturday’s clash against Racing.

The 33-year-old has become well-liked by supporters and team-mates, with Larkham paying tribute to Mathewson’s impact.

“It’s a sad moment really for everyone here and obviously for Alby,” said Larkham. “We knew when we signed him that this was going to eventuate at some stage, it’s just disappointing that it’s happening right now.

“He has been a massive contributor to the team. His on-field performances have been amazing. He has played for the All Blacks and you can see why – he consistently performs week-in, week-out.

“The biggest thing we are going to miss here is just his contribution to the young nines who we have got coming through.

“He is an excellent coach off the field. He is a super competitive person and that rubs off on everyone but it is the work that he does behind the scenes with the nines, it will be more than missed within the organisation.”

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Murray Kinsella

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