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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 23 September 2020
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Hanrahan making 'really good progress' as Munster get set for Toulon

The 21-year-old was at the squad’s training session in Cork today, while Casey Laulala’s recovery has gone to plan.

Rob Penney was in good spirits at Musgrave Park earlier.
Rob Penney was in good spirits at Musgrave Park earlier.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

MUNSTER COACH ROB Penney is hopeful that out-half JJ Hanrahan will make a surprise recovery to be involved in Sunday’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon in Marseille.

The 21-year-old picked up a groin tear in the RaboDirect Pro12 defeat to Glasgow two weekends ago, but has healed quicker than expected since then. Hanrahan was present at the squad training session at Musgrave Park earlier today, and may be available for selection this weekend.

Lock Donnacha Ryan took a limited part in training in Cork, although his potential involvement continues to look doubtful. Casey Laulala’s recovery from a broken bone in his right hand has gone according to plan and he is fit to start against Toulon.

JJ’s made some really good progress in the last few days and it’s possible that he could be in contention later in the week,” said Penney. “Donnacha Ryan trained partially today and it’s unlikely, but depending on how he gets through the next 24 hours, he could come into contention. Casey’s fine.”

If Hanrahan does not recover, Penney insists he believes that Conor Murray could “do a great job there” if he had to fill in for Ian Keatley in the out-half position. However, the Japan-bound coach is cautiously optimistic over Hanrahan.

“It’s good to have your quality boys available to you. We won’t pre-empt that because it’s still a wee ways off yet. It would be really great to have JJ back in the mix if possible.”

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JJ Hanrahan and Colm Fuller Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster face a daunting European tie this weekend, with Toulon in the midst of their strongest patch of form during the current season. Despite the challenge that awaits, the New Zealander says his men must travel with confidence.

“It would be pointless making the effort if we didn’t have a degree of confidence, but it’s not false confidence. The challenge is absolutely massive. Any team that goes there can’t be totally confident in their ability to have success down there.

They’re a great side and they deserve all the plaudits they have received in the last few years. As I’ve said in the past, we’re going to have to be at our best and that may not even be good enough. The boys will prepare well and we’ll throw ourselves into it and give it a good crack.”

“The reality is we’re going to have to play like that to be in with a chance. We’re going to have to be our best.”

Audio courtesy of the Big Red Bench on Cork’s Red FM.

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