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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

Heineken Cup blow for Munster as Earls and du Preez ruled out of French trip

There is a silver lining to the selection cloud as Felix Jones is in line for a comeback.

Leinster's Fergus McFadden tackles Keith Earls of Munster.
Leinster's Fergus McFadden tackles Keith Earls of Munster.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN hit with two crucial injury blows ahead of their Heineken Cup opener against Racing Metro in Paris.

Keith Earls and Wian du Preez, who both picked up knocks in the 30-21 defeat to Leinster on Saturday, have both been ruled out of the away date on Saturday.

Earls, who has featured on the wing and in the centre, for Munster this season picked up a groin strain at the Aviva.

He saw a specialist on Wednesday afternoon and will be out for two to three weeks and du Preez, who injured a knee in the same game, sees a specialist on Thursday. A time-frame on his absence can then be better established.

Munster Rugby also confirmed that Niall Ronan, who was a late withdrawal from the squad for the Leinster game, did train on Wednesday but  didn’t take a full part and is unlikely to be in consideration for the Racing game.

It would seem likely that James Downey will come in at inside centre, with Casey Laulala moving over one position. Dave Kilcoyne should continue to deputise for du Preez.

There is a positive note for Munster, and coach Rob Penney, with the news that Felix Jones has settled back well into full training and will travel to France.

Jones took a full part in training at Cork Institute of Technology and, if he reports no ill-effects, will return to action at the weekend.

Penney did not reveal, when interviewed today, whether he would hand the Number 10 jersey to Ronan O’Gara or Ian Keatley for the game against the Top 14 side.

He did concede that there were ‘tough decisions’ to make this week and not just concerning the out-half position.

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Patrick McCarry

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