Bryan Keane/INPHO

Munster left to re-think their way around luckless spate of injuries

Having lost the creativity of Joey Carbery, the tight five was decimated at the weekend.

EVEN BEFORE RUGBY restarted, Munster’s arsenal looked depleted.

The rapier of Joey Carbery was blunted by his problematic ankle. Now the battering rams are lost too.

They are more than battering rams, of course. RG Snyman, Dave Kilcoyne and Jean Kleyn were set to be key pillars in the platform provided by Munster’s tight five. That Tadhg Beirne was able to resume full training last week was a very welcome return indeed.

Any international out-half struggles to play their best behind a weakened pack. JJ Hanrahan’s bid to be recognised for that honour just got a hell of a lot tougher.

Earlier this summer, when Carbery was still chalked in for September, Munster head coach Johann van Graan signalled caution over the restart.

Sure enough, big bodies resuming big impacts after a big five-month break in cotton wool has taken its toll. But Van Graan surely not have worried himself into believing a week one body count would be so great.

Star summer signing RG Snyman cruelly brought crashing down after just seven minutes of a debut. He will be gone for… well, recovery times for an ACL tear will vary. The fact that the Springbok World Cup winner was at least able to limp off the field himself would lead us to hope that it won’t take the full 9-12 months that Chris Farrell and Peter O’Mahony needed after their rupture of the same ligament.

Both Dave Kilcoyne (neck) and Jean Kleyn (back) are dealing with injuries that are notoriously difficult to put a timeline on. ‘Out for the immediate future’ was Munster’s projection today, suggesting the international window is not yet impossible for the duo.

Andy Farrell would feel the blow of such a loss as well as Munster. Kilcoyne played his way into fantastic form in the first half of the season and gave Cian Healy a real push in the race to be Ireland’s number 1.

In an international window when James Ryan and Iain Henderson are coming off the back of surgery, another lock on the injured list could prove a real headache ahead of the Six Nations restart.

stephen-larkham Dan Sheridan / INPHO Stephen Larkham running Munster training last week. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Without a quartet of likely starters in such key positions and the subsequent loss of depth as men step forth, Munster will have to lean heavier on the ingenuity within their game.

Their intelligent line-out led by Billy Holland and Peter O’Mahony gave Leinster a host of problems to contend with. First game back, with minimal contact prep, was far from the ideal scenario to show the scope of their phaseplay, but the first half of the season saw them make huge strides forward with Stephen Larkham’s structures.

Moving the ball and the point of contact, relying on the abilities of their in-tact back-line to break games open will be imperative in the year ahead. It may have to be one hell of a curveball to oust a forewarned Leinster at the semi-final stage in 10 days, but showing that ability to ‘find a way’ with the players available could prove an invaluable bit of experience to build the 2020/21 season proper around.

They never do shirk the hard way.

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