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'I fear he is going to be out for quite a long time': Worrying update on Grand Slam winner Earls' injury

Tyler Bleyendaal and Duncan Williams have been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Earls: limped off in the second half of the Grand Slam decider.
Earls: limped off in the second half of the Grand Slam decider.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated Mar 20th 2018, 9:06 AM

JOHANN VAN GRAAN fears that Keith Earls will be sidelined “for quite a long time” after injuring his knee in Ireland’s historic Grand Slam win against England.

Munster’s quest for silverware has been rocked with the loss of Tyler Bleyendaal and Duncan Williams for the rest of the season, while Earls must now be rated as a huge doubt to face Toulon in the Champions Cup on Easter weekend.

“Keith Earls is probably out for a long time. We are still waiting for the feedback on him,” said Van Graan.

“I spoke to him personally. He was in a lot of pain. If you just looked at the clip, he seems to be in a bit of trouble and knowing Earlsie he is quite a tough man.

“He has been through a lot and just watching the footage, if you look at him celebrating in the circle afterwards, he jumped on one leg. I don’t have any medical confirmation at this stage, but I fear he is going to be out for quite a long time.”

Tyler Bleyendaal Bleyendaal: out for the rest of the season. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Bleyendaal will miss the rest of the season after he was forced to have surgery to deal with a recurrence of his neck injury, while a training ground accident saw Williams sustain a fractured cheekbone and eye socket, which will also sideline him until the summer.

Neck and quad injuries have restricted Bleyendaal to just 39 appearances in three seasons, but Van Graan firmly sees him as a key figure for Munster – although he expected the New Zealander to be out for the next four months.

“Look he came through recovery, cleared all the medical tests, came from the bench against Cardiff, played 65 minutes against Glasgow and came through that game perfectly well,” said Van Graan.

“Some symptoms re-emerged and he got seen by a specialist and they decided to go for the surgery and that’s the facts

“Tyler is firstly a quality individual. The thing that impressed me most about him is the person that he is and his rugby knowledge and the way he keeps the team calm. He sees the game in slow motion.

“He’s a key part of Munster. He was our player of the year last year, he started most of the big games, and obviously it’s very disappointing for the team and for himself that he’s out for a long time now.”

Shorter term concerns surround Simon Zebo (hamstring), Rory Scannell (shoulder), Andrew Conway (knee) and Alex Wootton (hip), but added to long-term absentees Chris Farrell, Chris Cloete and Jaco Taute, Munster’s backline now has a threadbare look.

With the treatment room heaving, Munster could do with the Ireland squad members returning immediately, but instead internationals Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray and CJ Stander will have a week off. Ian Keatley, however, is expected to be available for Saturday’s clash with Scarlets in Thomond Park.

Jean Kleyn is also a doubt for the weekend due to concussion, although on a bright note, Niall Scannell has returned to training following his rib injury and is expected to face Scarlets this weekend.

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