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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019

O'Donnell 'another big blow,' Scannell a doubt as Munster move into European mode

The openside looks set for another long stint on the sidelines, while the centre left the field for a HIA.

Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

Sean Farrell reports from Thomond Park

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan insists he is ready to trust in the depth of his squad as the Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulon draws near.

With the visit of the French giants now less than a week away, the southern province’s injury troubles were added to during a hard-fought 19 – 7 win over Scarlets.

Tommy O’Donnell departed the field in a makeshift sling early in the second half after helping Munster force their way into the lead with Robin Copeland’s try.

“Not good,” said Van Graan when asked about the openside’s apparent shoulder injury.

“He is in a lot of pain, arm is in a sling. He had trouble getting up on the field and even in the changing room.

So, I’m not a doctor, but he seems definitely a doubt for the weekend. And if I had to guess I’d say it will be another few weeks or maybe a long time for him –  yeah, if he is out, it’s another big blow for us.”

Though Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander will be back from international duty to bolster the back row next weekend, the loss of the senior openside on top of Chris Cloete clearly stings for Van Graan.

However, the South African was ready to point towards alternatives, even touching on CJ Stander as an option given the excellent form of Robin Copeland.

“We’ve got Conor Oliver as well, Jack (O’Donoghue) did well at openside, CJ’s played seven before with Robin Copeland at eight. So we’ll reassess.

“I just wanted to get through this game. The big picture is what we want to do next week, but with injuries that’s changed, so as a coaching staff we’ll assess over the next 48 hours and then adjust our plan accordingly.”

Part of that assessment will include return to play protocols for centre Rory Scannell after he was replaced by Dan Goggin to undergo a HIA.

Rory Scannell is tackled by Rhys Patchell and James Davies Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


Already without Chris Farrell, Jaco Taute and Keith Earls – while doubts remain over Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway – extra back-line injuries were the last thing Munster needed from a night when they defeated the reigning champions.

Van Graan was tentatively positive on the likelihood of Scannell being fit to fire next weekend:

“Hopefully he’ll be ready. We cant really afford to lose any more backs at this stage. Hopefully he’ll be fine.”

“You always know with any game the week before there is a possibility of injuries. I’d love to come in here and say we’ve no injuries, but that’s just part and parcel of the game of rugby.

“We’ve a few fit guys who can go next week and whoever’s available, we’ll go with them.”

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Sean Farrell

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