Sunday 28 December 2014

Hooker woe for Munster as Sherry out for six months

Declan Rooney

Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30

Munster head coach Anthony Foley during squad training at Cork Institute of Technology. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Munster head coach Anthony Foley during squad training at Cork Institute of Technology. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Munster are facing into the new season without an experienced hooker after Ireland international Mike Sherry was ruled out for six months with a shoulder injury.

Sherry decided to undergo surgery on a troublesome shoulder problem last January while he was recovering from a knee ligament injury, but during a routine check-up he was told that his shoulder graft hadn't knitted properly and that he must restart the process.

Sherry started last season vying with Damien Varley for the starting hooker's jersey, but Varley has also been ruled out of Munster opening Guinness Pro12 game against Edinburgh as he rests an ongoing foot problem.

Third choice hooker Duncan Casey, who impressed last season, looks set to miss Munster first pre-season game against Gloucester this Saturday as he ramps up his pre-season work, while young No 2 Niall Scannell will miss the next month because of a wrist injury.

With four of his leading hookers out of action Foley has called up Kevin O'Bryne from UL Bohs and Gerry Slattery from Young Munster, but he admits the loss of Sherry for the rest of the year is a huge blow.

"Mike Sherry is gone for six months. He went under the knife again last week, the shoulder graft didn't take and he had to get it redone. Unfortunately Mike is out for another five to six months.

"It a huge blow for everyone, but personally for Mike, we'll look after him, it's important to us.

"He's an integral part of our squad and for a guy to be out for that length of time, you know it's not good. But he's a Munster players, he's been brought up and brought through here so we have to look after him.

"Kevin has been with us all pre-season because of the Damien Varley and Niall Scannell situation. When Mike's issue raised its head a couple of weeks ago we brought in Gerry Slattery into our squad.

"Those two boys have fitted in well, they understand Munster, they understand what we're about. It's all about managing the situation, it's not about getting panicky.

"We do understand that there are serious injuries (there), but we just have to manage that," said Foley, who look set to run his eye over more than 25 players in the weekend's clash with Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Also on the injury front, there was more bad news for Keith Earls who picked up a knee injury training with Ireland last week, and he will also miss the start of the season.

Reluctant

Foley was reluctant to put a comeback date on Donnacha Ryan's foot injury, but he said the utility forward would be given as much time as he needs to set aside his continuing problem, while captain Peter O'Mahony has yet to return to contact work after shoulder surgery.

"Donnacha Ryan is back running, he's progressing the whole time. Its something we don't want to rush. It's a foot/toe problem, so the whole time, every week he's getting closer and closer.

"We've just got to remain patient with that because he's a quality player and he's a player we want to get back into our squad as quickly as possible. But we do understand that if we give him time now we'll get more out of him later on.

"Peter is coming every week, he's hungry to get involved. He is doing the skills training sessions with us, but he hasn't taken part in our squad days at all yet, but he's coming.

"It's sometime in October he's scheduled to come back. He is a guy we want to get right as well, but now's the time for him to get right as well.

"Keith picked up a little problem with his knee above in Irish camp last week and it's going to take four or five weeks for it to mend.

"But these are things...we've got two weeks of pre-season games and then we're into our league. If we can take the hit now on some of these injuries we'll take the hit now and take the benefit of it later.

"If you try and force things now you may give a fella a stop-start season. What we want to do is get a fella running into the season. We'll take a bit of a hit at the moment and hopefully we get the benefits later on," Foley added.

But in the midsts of all the bad injury news, there was some positivity about Gerhardt van den Heever and Luke O'Dea, who both got positive feedback on knee injury concerns although they still aren't ready to train fully..

There were fears that Van den Heever could be set for a lengthy time on the sidelines after he injured his knee playing in the Munster 7s competition, but after a visit to the Santry Sports Clinic on Monday, he was given the all clear to return in 'three to four weeks', while O'Dea will return a week sooner.

Irish Independent

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