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Penney refusing to rush O'Connell's return


Thomond Park, TONIGHT 8.0 (Live TG4)

MUNSTER boss Rob Penney has said he won't rush Paul O'Connell back into action as his side prepare to take on the Newport-Gwent Dragons.

Penney is giving O'Connell the maximum time to recover from the knee injury which ruled him out of Ireland's summer tour to New Zealand.

"When Paul feels like he's ready he'll be back on the grass," said Penney. "He's in a programme but there's no set guidelines on when he'll be back to play. If it takes a month it takes a month, two months then two months. It'll be what it'll be.

"He's making progress, which is great, but there's absolutely no deadline date for him to return. It's very simple really; if you care for your players then those sorts of decisions about their welfare are no-brainers."

Tom Brown and the Dragons have vowed to "fight fire with fire" when they pitch up tonight. The abrasive No 8 has taken over from Wales star Toby Faletau and pledged not to take a backward step.

World Cup sensation Faletau suffered a dead leg during the defeat by the Blues last weekend and is on the bench.

Dragons coach Darren Edwards claimed Faletau wasn't fully fit but also said he hasn't been at his best.


Former Blues forward Brown is relishing the prospect of fronting up against the crack Irish province and doesn't intend to be a victim of the Munster mash.

"I couldn't have asked for a better game to come back for," he declared. "We are all excited at playing at a massive and noisy stadium."

Dragons have lost their last two league fixtures, against Leinster and the Blues, with coach Darren Edwards admitting they're in need of a lift.

"I expect to see that energy and excitement at being at Thomond Park transfer to the pitch," he said.

Only skipper Steve Jones has played for the Dragons in Limerick -- their last few away encounters with Munster have taken place at Cork's Musgrave Park.