Sunday 23 October 2016

Munster prop crisis after Cronin ban

Published 13/10/2016 | 02:30

Munster's James Cronin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Munster's James Cronin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Munster are facing into propping crisis ahead of Sunday's daunting trip to face French champions Racing 92 after James Cronin was hit with a four-week ban.

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The Ireland international was found guilty of having "recklessly stamped on the head of an opponent" in an incident involving Leinster's Jamison Gibson-Park during the closing stages of Saturday's defeat at the Aviva Stadium, an act that warranted a red card according to an all-Scottish Guinness Pro12 judicial panel.

Munster will consider whether to appeal the judgement, and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will have an update at today's press briefing, but with Dave Kilcoyne recovering from a concussion he suffered in the same game, the South African has a major problem in the scrum.

If Kilcoyne fails to make it, Erasmus could switch John Ryan to the loosehead side and start Stephen Archer at tighthead.

However, reserve tighthead prop John Andress is also struggling for fitness after injuring his knee playing for Shannon last weekend and South African signing Thomas du Toit has yet to arrive.

Academy prop Brian Scott could yet be involved in European action for the first time against the powerful Parisians; Munster chose not to register any additional players yesterday.

Erasmus will also provide an update on the fitness of Keith Earls, who is following the concussion protocols.

Racing 92 have off-field issues of their own after Dan Carter, Juan Imhoff and Joe Rokocoko all went before a judicial hearing in Paris yesterday.

The trio were found to have traces of banned corticosteroid in their systems when they underwent routine drug tests after the Top 14 final in June.

French officials are expected to deliver a verdict early next week on the trio of international stars, who are available to face Munster on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in transfer news, Connacht have landed Fiji international Naulia Dawai on a two-year deal.

"Naulia is an exciting addition to the squad as he brings X-factor to our hard-working forward pack," Pat Lam said of the 29-year-old, who has been playing in New Zealand's Mitre 10 Cup with Otago.

"He can play across the back-row, which is a great boost to our options up front and also provides vital depth and competition in those positions.

"We were really impressed with the rugby Naulia's been playing in the NPC and also with the Fiji national side during the summer.

"When Otago head coach and good friend Cory Brown confirmed to me Naulia's work ethic and ability on and off the field, we were very pleased to secure him."

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw will move to Clermont Auvergne from Gloucester on a three-year deal at the end of the season.

Irish Independent

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