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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

Stander and Scannell boosts for Munster but Conor Murray unlikely to play

Rassie Erasmus said he is confident Murray won’t make a ‘surprise return’ against Saracens.

MUNSTER HAVE BEEN handed a boost ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens on Saturday, with Rory Scannell and CJ Stander looking likely to feature.

However, it now appears very unlikely that star scrum-half Conor Murray will be fit, with director of rugby Rassie Erasmus indicating that he believes the Ireland international will not have recovered from an issue with a nerve in his shoulder.

Munster’s CJ Stander  celebrates after the match Stander looks likely to feature against Saracens. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Murray suffered a ‘stinger’ while on Ireland duty during the Six Nations and the problem still hasn’t cleared.

Scannell picked up an ankle sprain during Saturday’s win over Ulster and appeared to be in serious pain, but the injury is not as bad as first feared. He will not train today, but should be back in training later in the week.

CJ Stander will not train today either as he continues to recover from his ankle injury but Munster expect him back in full training in the coming days, and Erasmus feels he will be ready to play.

It’s a similar situation for Darren Sweetnam, who is undergoing the return-to-play protocols after suffering a concussion against Ulster, while Erasmus will have Jaco Taute available again after he had his workload managed last week.

Duncan Williams is also available despite being a late withdrawal from the Ulster game due to groin tightness. Meanwhile, Ian Keatley came through his return from a knee injury with no setbacks.

I don’t think Rory Scannell will be out this weekend, I think he will have a good chance,” said Erasmus. “I think Jaco Taute might be back, I think CJ Stander might be available.

“I think Darren Sweetnam will be able to play after that head knock. I think he’ll make it before Saturday.

“But I think Conor is definitely a doubt and we’ll give him as long as we can but I’m fairly confident that he won’t make a surprise return this weekend. It’s really becoming a bit of a worry now and he must start thinking about the bigger things that will still happen this season, including the Lions tour if he makes that squad.

“Apart from him, the squad is not looking too bad.”

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding tackled Rory Scannell Scannell was injured in the win over Ulster. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

There is huge frustration on all sides around the Murray injury, which had not initially appeared to be a long-term issue.

“It’s just a stinger and it injured the nerve a little bit,” said Erasmus. “It’s taken longer to heal. It’s a waiting game. Rory Scannell had it last year and it took four or five weeks. Conor is going into his sixth or seventh week.

“As frustrating as it is for everybody, it must be annoying for him because he’s the kind of guy that wants to play in every game, never mind a semi-final or quarter-final. We’ll make the right decision. He’s got a long future ahead of him.”

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Murray Kinsella

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