Sunday 22 April 2018

Huge boost for Munster as Keith Earls winning fight to face Racing in Champions Cup

Munster's Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster's Keith Earls. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Keith Earls looks set to give Munster a huge boost by returning for next weekend's Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92.

The winger was expected to be ruled out for six weeks after picking up a knee injury in the Grand Slam win over England last month, but the Irish Independent understands that Earls is very much ahead of schedule in terms of his comeback.

The 30-year-old will still have to hit certain markers next week, but the early indications are positive, as he is in line to make the trip to Bordeaux for the clash with Racing.

Earls was replaced in the second half at Twickenham and initial fears that he had damaged his cruciate ligament were eased when scan results showed the injury wasn't as serious.

With the Munster squad in South Africa over the last fortnight, culminating in last night's impressive comeback victory against Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, Earls has been rehabilitating in Limerick and earlier this week made huge strides in his recovery as he began running again.

With Simon Zebo also returning against the Cheetahs last night, Johann van Graan looks likely to be able to pick his first choice back-three along with Andrew Conway.

Leinster have also been handed a double boost ahead of their Champions Cup semi-final against the Scarlets as Sean O'Brien (shoulder) and Jordan Larmour (leg) both return to the starting XV for this evening's (7.35) PRO14 meeting with Benetton at the RDS.

O'Brien damaged his hip against Exeter in December and then upon his return, injured his shoulder against the Scarlets last month. "It is just the presence that he brings," Leo Cullen said of the Ireland and Lions flanker.

"He is a great voice in the dressing room. He is a great voice defensively in the line because he's so strong in around that ruck area.

"Then on the other side of the game, it is just the intent with which he carries and his presence in all the physical components of the game."

Irish Independent

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