AFTER an early season dominated by player unavailability, Munster received a welcome boost yesterday when Jerry Flannery was named in the squad to take on Toulon in their crucial Heineken Cup fixture at Thomond Park this Saturday.
The hooker came through 40 minutes for Shannon in their AIL victory over Garryowen last Friday night, his first action since Ireland's match against the Barbarians in June.
Flannery managed only six matches for Munster last season and, with Denis Fogarty on the long-term injury list, his return brings vital experience to the squad where Damien Varley has been impressing in the absence of the first-choice hooker.
Niall Ronan was forced off against London Irish after taking a nasty gash to the head but the flanker has been cleared to play, with Munster saying there is no question of concussion.
Centre Sam Tuitupou has also been included but, having been cited for a dangerous tackle on Paul Hodgson, the All Black may be ruled out if he is found guilty at a hearing this afternoon.
If Tuitupou is unavailable it leaves Munster perilously short on outside backs, but coach Tony McGahan said they will just have to get on with it. "We're certainly at the bottom end in terms of players who we have registered for the Heineken Cup," said McGahan. "The only player we have left that didn't play in the 10 backs at the weekend is Danny Barnes, so that's the last back that is available for selection that we can use this weekend.
"But we are used to it; you don't get too many weeks in the season where you have a perfect run-in with regards to availability or players with injuries or players not being able to train.
"It is just the normal practice that unfortunately you get used to; it certainly doesn't help, but it's part of it."