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Dublin: 17 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019
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We've waited 12 months to see Peter O'Mahony - but the wait is nearly over

“Good chance” that flanker will face Zebre on Saturday evening.

O'Mahony: in the mix for Zebre clash.
O'Mahony: in the mix for Zebre clash.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IT HAS BEEN a long 12 months but Munster skipper Peter O’Mahony looks set to make his return from a knee injury against Zebre this weekend.

O’Mahony could also be joined by South African centre Jaco Taute on his debut, while Irish international Tommy O’Donnell and Simon Zebo are also in the mix for Rassie Erasmus’s side this weekend.

It has been a long wait for O’Mahony as he edged closer to fitness in recent months, but he will hope to get some game-time under his belt ahead of games with Leinster and Racing 92 in the next fortnight.

After a successful return to full training, Erasmus is confident that he is now ready to play some part this weekend.

“Peter will be in the reckoning, probably a good chance for him to be in the mix,” said Erasmus.

“Always with players like that, if you make a mistake bringing him back. This is the third or fourth week we have been saying ‘maybe next week’ but today, Wednesday’s training was part of checking him out to make sure he is ready.

“He came though today but we’ll still make a calculated decision, but there is a good chance of him playing.”

A broken rib has seen Zebo sidelined since the first day of the season while O’Donnell has been concussed since their defeat to Cardiff three weeks ago.

And Erasmus is confident that Taute’s work permit will have cleared in time for the South African international to debut against Zebre.

“Jaco’s work permit, I think it will definitely be here, so he will be in the mix. He is one of the guys we really hope to get onto the park.

“I don’t see a problem with the work permit. We haven’t received all the papers yet, but I don’t see a problem with it.”

Meanwhile, Darren Sweetnam said he came within a few hours of quitting rugby for good, only for Munster coach Greig Oliver to turn his head at the last moment.

Sweetman has been in top form for Munster so far this season, and has played every minute of their four of their Pro12 games to date, and after three years in the academy his patience seems to have paid off.

But as a Cork senior hurler, he admitted he had toyed with the idea of finally choosing the small ball game before Oliver convinced him to throw his lot in with Munster.

Sweetnam has played at Croke Park for Jimmy Barry Murphy’s Cork side in the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, but he chose the difficult route to rugby professionalism.

“To be honest, it wasn’t definite. It was a hard decision, I was playing Cork senior hurling while playing for the Munster U20s,” said Sweetnam.

“At the time I actually rang Graham Burns the manager and said ‘you know, I’m going to stick with the hurling’. I was with the Cork seniors, so it was a risk going to the rugby.

“But then Greig Oliver, who was the coach at the time, got on to me that day and he asked me to meet him one more time and bring my dad along.

“So I met with them and he changed my mind. I played the U20s campaign, then I got offered an academy contract. I had to choose.

“But I’m really enjoying it, I don’t want it to end to be honest. Things are going well at the moment, so I just need to work hard to keep it going.”

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Declan Rooney

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