Erasmus in no rush to push Murray back into firing line
Munster coach Rassie Erasmus thinks there is a chance that Conor Murray could be fit to face Connacht on Saturday, but he doesn't want his No 9 to be in a rush to prove his fitness ahead of the Lions tour and the Guinness Pro12 semi-finals.
Murray has missed Munster's last six games after sustaining nerve damage to his shoulder and neck against Wales in the Six Nations.
The scrum-half suffered a similar injury against Glasgow in January, and the same problem forced him to miss two European games in 2015.
With Lions coach Warren Gatland insisting that Murray has to prove his fitness to make the tour, the pressure is on the 28-year-old to play for Munster before the end of the season.
"I think Conor is conscious of that. It would be normal if he felt that way - a Lions trip comes around only every four years, but also you can't be stupid," said Erasmus.
"After this Lions series, his rugby career is not over. He's got another few years to go, so we won't rush him back.
"If we didn't rush him back for our Champions Cup semi-final, why would we now rush him back all of a sudden? I'm sure there will be other Lions players who will still get injured before the tour.
"Conor is definitely progressing - he is definitely getting better. I hope he gets a game in. There are definitely two games to go and hopefully he will play in one of those.
"Every week he contributes more in training sessions. He has been ticking all the boxes - much slower than we hoped, but he is ticking the boxes.
"Hopefully, he gets to the end of the week without any setbacks. If he does that, there is a chance that he will play."
Munster secured a Pro12 home semi-final with victory over Treviso last weekend, but that win came at a considerable cost.
Top try-scorer Ronan O'Mahony will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg, while Dave O'Callaghan has a serious knee injury, and Robin Copeland will miss the rest of the season after surgery on a dislocated shoulder.
Jean Deysel (ribs) and Billy Holland (tonsillitis) are both expected to be fit for Saturday's Thomond Park derby.
There is also positive news on Mike Sherry. The hooker has made real progress in recent weeks in his battle to overcome a back problem and hopes to be fully fit for the start of next season.