Return of Jones eases Hurley blow for Munster
Published 03/03/2011 | 05:00
Munster have not ruled out the possibility that Denis Hurley will play again this season, but are resigned to being without his services for the foreseeable future.
The 26-year-old winger was undergoing scans yesterday to determine the full extent of the knee injury he sustained against Aironi in a Magners League clash last weekend.
The scan is expected to reveal that he suffered some medial ligament damage, but Munster chiefs are confident that the injury is not career-threatening.
Team manager Shaun Payne said yesterday: "Denis was unfortunately involved in an incident last Sunday when one of the other players fell across his leg and hurt his knee. It was relatively painful and he does seem to be in a bit of discomfort.
"It's very unfair of me to speculate on what's wrong with it, but it does seem to be a relatively serious injury which will keep him out for some time.
"But you never know with these things. It may not be half as bad as we think it is, and we may all be smiling after the scan."
Obviously, Hurley will sit out Saturday night's home assignment against the Dragons in Cork, while he also looks certain to miss out against Cardiff on March 25.
Beyond that, Munster face into two very important matches in early April, at home to Leinster and then travelling to Brive for their Amlin Cup quarter-final, so they will be hoping to have one of their most consistent performers available sooner rather than later.
"Denis has been one of our form players in the backline over the last month or two," added Payne. "It's quite a loss for us."
News of Hurley's potential lay-off was tempered slightly, however, with confirmation that Felix Jones is on course to make a return to action this month having recovered from the cruciate ligament damage he sustained last September.
The former Leinsterman looked sharp in training yesterday and while Saturday's game against the Blues has come a week too soon, he looks certain to feature for Munster 'A' when they travel to Belfast to take on the Ulster Ravens on March 16.
Considered to be one of the hottest young prospects in Irish rugby, the return of 23-year-old Jones can't come soon enough for the province.
"It's obviously very exciting for us," remarked Payne. "He's someone that we would have high expectations for.
"We see what he is capable of in training, but unfortunately through the neck injury he had the season before and the knee injury this season, he hasn't been exposed as much as we would have liked.
Meanwhile, Denis Leamy and Peter Stringer have both been included in a 26-man Munster squad which also includes Danny Barnes, replacement for the stricken Hurley.
Tomas O'Leary was not released for international camp as he continues to struggle with a troublesome back.