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Munster back promising academy locks after 'devastating' RG Snyman injury

Stephen Larkham says the province won’t look for a short-term signing with Jean Kleyn also sidelined.

MUNSTER SAY THEY have no plans to look for a new signing in the second row after the “devastating” injury to RG Snyman and a neck setback for his fellow lock Jean Kleyn.

World Cup winner Snyman tore the ACL in his left knee just seven minutes into his Munster debut last weekend against Leinster and will be sidelined for between six months and a year, depending on how his surgery and recovery go.

Kleyn, meanwhile, suffered a neck ligament injury in the same game after replacing Snyman and the province say they’re still unsure how long he will be absent for, although he will definitely miss the Connacht clash this Saturday. 

pjimage (1) Munster feel academy locks Thomas Ahern and Paddy Kelly could step up at senior level. Source: INPHO

But Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham indicated that the province are going to back their second row depth chart, which includes promising academy pair Thomas Ahern and Paddy Kelly, rather than look for a new signing.

With Tadhg Beirne and Fineen Wycherley having recovered from recent injuries to be available for this weekend’s meeting with Connacht, veteran lineout specialist Billy Holland fully fit, and back row prospect Gavin Coombes potentially also covering the second row, Munster feel their cover is strong enough.

“Short term, no,” said Larkham regarding any potential new signing. “We are definitely focused on playing the game this weekend and finishing off this season best we can.

“From a second row perspective, Tadhg Beirne is back which gives us a little bit of depth. Billy Holland is all good, Fineen Wycherley is back as well. I think it is timely for those gusy coming back in.

“We’ve also got some academy players. Thomas Ahern is showing a lot of promise, Paddy Kelly also. Both are good young prospects who we would be very comfortable putting in the main team.”

As for 25-year-old Snyman, whose ACL injury was confirmed yesterday, Larkham said it’s still unclear exactly how long he will be out of the game for.

“In terms of the timeframe, he saw the surgeon last night but we still don’t have a timeframe. But it is a typical ACL so it could be anywhere from six months to 12 months. It really depends on the rehab.

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rg-snyman-chris-farrell-and-jordan-larmour-after-the-game Snyman could be missing for up to a year. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“It’s devastating for RG. He has come over here with a real purpose to be a part of this team and he has missed out on that opportunity now for however long the rehab takes, so it is devastating news for him but also upsetting for the rest of the team.

“We were really looking forward to it. He has been training with us for a good period of time and we certainly saw how good the guy is.”

Munster have concerns at loosehead prop too, with Dave Kilcoyne limping off last weekend at the same time as Snyman after suffering an ankle ligament injury. 

His recovery timeframe is also unclear, while James Cronin – who was due to start ahead of Kilcoyne – “did a groin last week at training,” but Larkham said he was close to featuring against Leinster and will be “touch and go for this week.”

With Jeremy Loughman and Liam O’Connor fit in the senior squad, and academy prop Josh Wycherley also in contention, Larkham confirmed there would be no short-term signing as he said some of Munster’s tighthead props have also been getting training minutes on the loosehead side.

“There are also guys that we are swapping over,” said Larkham, “I wouldn’t say we are flush with depth.

ben-healy Ben Healy is one of three out-halves in the academy. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“There guys we are swapping over in the scrum just to make sure that we have coverage for the weekend but it’s the same with any team in Ireland at the moment. There is a real shortage of props.”

Larkham also clarified that Munster definitely won’t be looking for a new addition at out-half with Joey Carbery sidelined indefinitely due to an ankle injury. JJ Hanrahan – who Larkham called “a real student of the game” – is the senior 10 now, with Rory Scannell covering the position and three promising players coming through the ranks.

“We have got a couple of young guys in the academy if you look from a five-eights perspective,” said Larkham. “We’ve got Ben Healy, Jake Flannery and Jack Crowley, who have been training with us for the last couple of months.

“We have a lot of confidence in those guys. We certainly feel they understand the system quite well so we are quite comfortable putting those guys in if we need to.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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