Monday 16 September 2019

Van Graan hopeful Carbery will be fit for clash with English kingpins

Joey Carbery sits on the bench with an ice pack on his leg following his substitution during Saturday's Champions Cup win in Edinburgh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery sits on the bench with an ice pack on his leg following his substitution during Saturday's Champions Cup win in Edinburgh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

The details were vague on the nature of Joey Carbery's injury but Munster are hopeful that the issue that forced him off towards the end of Saturday's win in Edinburgh will clear in time for the Easter semi-final against Saracens.

The out-half made his comeback from a six-week hamstring injury against Edinburgh at Murrayfield and while he felt his shoulder after an early tackle on the home side's powerful No 8 Viliame Mata, he was icing his upper leg after being replaced by Tyler Bleyendaal.

Munster will issue an injury bulletin today, with Jack O'Donoghue going through the return-to-play protocols after suffering a head injury during the first half and failing his assessment.

"Obviously he and Jack are very disappointed that they had to come off the field. Even Mikey (Haley) stayed behind at the hotel (with illness), so I can't even imagine how he's feeling. We'll meet him up at the airport," van Graan said of Carbery.

"I think it's the beauty of our squad, I don't know if you saw the moment when Joey walked off and Tyler came on. Everybody knows it was next man up and Tyler did brilliantly."

Bleyendaal has almost been the forgotten man under Van Graan.

When Munster last faced Saracens at the semi-final stage, he started at out-half and had a bad day at the office but he subsequently spent time in Ireland camp before suffering his latest neck injury.

He has gently felt his way back since recovering from the injury and was handed a new contract last month.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

On Saturday, he played a key role in subtly tweaking Munster's game-plan as they turned the tide on an Edinburgh team who dominated possession and territory.

And when they got themselves in position, it was the New Zealander who rescued the situation when Rhys Marshall's lineout throw sailed over the forwards. The No 10 scrambled bravely to recover the ball before Keith Earls scored.

"We had a long chat about his future a few weeks ago," van Graan said.

"We have four quality fly-halves at Munster and everybody is up for the fight in a positive way to make sure that we get the best out of them and between JJ (Hanrahan) and Tyler it was a big call to make this week, obviously JJ was really disappointed and Tyler was happy, and he took the responsibility on himself and to come through is brilliant for the team.

"I can't stress the team effort enough. Even Fineen (Wycherley) and JJ, who were here with the squad, everybody just wants to contribute in whatever way and I believe it shows in the big moments."

Van Graan has spoken in detail about the last Munster semi-final against Saracens; a game that exposed the Reds' limitations at that stage of their development in 2017.

He is fully aware of the challenge that lies ahead at the Ricoh Arena.

"We have to be a lot better," he said.

"There were a lot of moments that we could have executed better, especially in the first half. I haven't thought about it as of yet but to win a semi-final against Saracens, you'll have to be at your best.

"Munster's last meeting with Saracens was at the Aviva two seasons ago. (They are) a quality team and we have to be better."

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport