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Dublin: 9°C Sunday 16 May 2021

CJ Stander ruled out for up to six weeks in latest Munster injury blow

Conor Murray and Simon Zebo are both doubts for this weekend’s clash with Sale Sharks.

Stander is helped off the pitch at Allianz Park.
Stander is helped off the pitch at Allianz Park.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Anthony Foley says powerful number eight CJ Stander will be missing for the next four to six weeks, the latest injury blow in a season that has featured a crippling number of them.

The South African back row sustained the injury during last weekend’s heavy defeat to Saracens, lasting just 27 minutes of the fixture before being replaced due to an ankle problem.

Stander will miss Sunday’s final Champions Cup Pool 1 fixture against Sale Sharks at Thomond Park, and may also be absent for the Guinness Pro12 meetings with the Cardiff Blues, Scarlets and Glasgow Warriors in the coming month or so.

“CJ is out for the weekend obviously, we’re looking at four to six weeks,” said Foley in Limerick this afternoon. “He’s playing quite well for us and you don’t want to see people like that coming off the pitch in distress.

We hope he gets back well and that this is just a blip.”

Meanwhile, Conor Murray is almost certain to miss the Sale clash too, with his neck injury being slow to heal.

The Ireland international was absent for the loss to Saracens and with Cathal Sheridan still not back in training after a forearm issue, Munster may again go into a European game with just one recognised scrum-half in Duncan Williams.

“Conor will be consistently assessed, but obviously he didn’t play last weekend,” said Foley. “It probably doesn’t look good for this weekend.”

Simon Zebo is a further injury concern, having sprained his ankle on the 3G surface at Allianz Park last time out. Foley refused to rule the Ireland wing out, although Joe Schmidt would watch on in some concern if Zebo does play against Sale.

Simon Zebo leaves the field injured Zebo's participation this weekend is in doubt. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Zeebs twisted his ankle, he didn’t train today but hopefully he’ll train on Friday, when we’ll look at him again,” said Foley. “Again, he’s in the Conor Murray bracket of being assessed on a day-to-day basis to see how they’re reacting to rehab.”

More positively, Robin Copeland did return to training today after a recent knee injury and may come back into the selection mix to face Sale. With Stander missing, the Wexford native’s ball-carrying ability is likely to be badly needed.

When asked if Munster would be at full strength against Sale on Sunday, injury permitting, Foley’s reply was succinct:

“We need to be.”

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Murray Kinsella

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