'He looked really sharp' - O'Mahony could feature for Munster in Castres

It remains uncertain whether Damian de Allende will be fit for the trip to France.

O'Mahony pulled out of the Ulster game.
O'Mahony pulled out of the Ulster game.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER ARE HOPEFUL that captain Peter O’Mahony will be fit to face Castres in France in the Champions Cup on Friday evening.

The Ireland international withdrew from last weekend’s win over Ulster at Thomond Park after suffering a leg strain during the pre-match warm-up.

Tadhg Beirne came into the starting XV in place of O’Mahony and also took over the captaincy for the 18-13 victory. 

However, O’Mahony trained with Munster yesterday and hopes to feature this weekend as Johann van Graan’s men look to make it three wins from three games in Europe so far this season.

“Hopefully Pete comes through training during the week,” said Munster head coach van Graan this afternoon.

“He trained yesterday afternoon, glad to have him back. We didn’t have any contact yesterday, he still has to come through that, but he looked really sharp yesterday afternoon.”

Munster welcomed second row Jean Kleyn back to training yesterday after he missed the Ulster game due to a knee injury. 

The Ireland international lock will also hope to convince van Graan and his coaching staff that he is ready to return for the European tie.

However, there remains uncertainty over the fitness of inside centre Damian de Allende, who sustained an abdominal injury in training last week and missed out on the Ulster clash.

De Allende’s availability for the Castres game “will be determined later this week.”

The province will definitely be without Jason Jenkins [abdomen], Chris Cloete [neck], Joey Carbery [elbow], Calvin Nash [ankle], Rowan Osborne [head], and RG Snyman [knee], who are all still being managed by Munster’s medical department.

Having got back to winning ways last weekend after defeat to Connacht on New Year’s Day, van Graan and co. are now targeting a win away from home in Europe.

“The two European games we’ve had this season were very unique,” said van Graan. “We played the Wasps one where we were in Cape Town two weeks before that, there was going to be around 30 players  – we didn’t know at that stage – but we knew a lot of guys weren’t going to be available.

andrew-conway-with-bastien-guillemin Munster face Castres on Friday night. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“We knew that we were going to have to stick with international guys that didn’t travel to South Africa and supplement that with academy players. Then [against Castres], a lot of players came out of isolation and it was the first time we as a group were together but we still had some guys missing from South Africa.

“But we came out of a very challenging time with two wins out of two to put us in a very good position at the back end of Europe. The way it is structured currently, it is four games. If you win three out of your four games, it puts you in a very good position to make the knock-out rounds.

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“Who knows what will happen in the other games so you might have to wait quite a bit to know where your fate lies.”

In recent weeks, there has been plenty of outside discussion about the confirmed departures of van Graan and senior coach Stephen Larkham from Munster at the end of this campaign.

Van Graan insists it hasn’t been a distraction.

“There’s a lot of noise on the outside. It’s a professional sport, it’s not surprising. You’ve just got to make sure that communication is clear.

“I’ve communicated the fact that I’m leaving back in December, I gave my reasons, the players and the club know exactly where they stand with me. As the coach and as the coaching staff, we’ve got a job to do week-on-week and that’s how we’ve been approaching it, week-by-week, over the last five years.

“Now we’re in the middle of a massive amount of games, we’ve got a lot of games left up until hopefully the end of June if we qualify for URC knock-outs.

“So we’ve just got to take it week-by-week, make sure that everything is good here in the HPC [high performance centre], which is a very enjoyable environment and hopefully we can perform so that constitutes to a result on the weekend.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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