Sunday 22 July 2018

Munster won't rush Hanrahan into action

JJ Hanrahan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
JJ Hanrahan. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Fallon

JJ Hanrahan's return to Munster colours is still a number of weeks away as the Kerry native completes his recovery from a shoulder injury picked up just before he ended his two-year exile with Northampton Saints.

The return of the 25-year-old, who has returned to modified training, is a big boost to Munster as they prepare for the new season according to scrum coach Jerry Flannery.

"I don't think anyone wanted to see JJ leave initially but that happened. To have him back now, with what we are hoping to do this season in terms of developing our attack game. JJ's skill-set is very, very suited to what we are hoping to do now," he said.

"He is still a little bit away. He is taking part in training now but he is not fully back. With the nature of JJ's injury, you are just trying to give it another few weeks.

"We are just conscious that he has been out of the game, that we just don't rush him back in."

Hanrahan played 64 times in three seasons for Munster before heading to Northampton where he made 31 appearances in two years.

New lock Gerbrandt Grobler is doubtful for the opening PRO14 game against Benetton Rugby in Cork on Friday night with an ankle injury picked up in the 35-26 win over Worcester Warriors on Thursday, while flanker Tommy O'Donnell is following return to play protocols after picking up a head injury in the same match.

Meanwhile, Flannery insisted that the announcement during the summer that Rassie Erasmus will return to South Africa in December has not impacted on their preparations for the new season.


The former Irish hooker said the primary concern was to build on the progress of last season and he believes that the mid-season departure of Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber will not impact on that.

"Obviously, it was weird with the announcement at the start of pre-season but it in no way has it effected our rugby.

"We felt we put down a really good season last year and the main thing for us is to get consistency and continuity year on year on year. We were worried that was the main thing.

"Felix (Jones) put an awful lot of work into our attack game in the off-season and you were worried then when Rassie and Jacques Nienaber were leaving, is there someone else going to come in straight away, is that work down the drain? But from a rugby point of view it has been incredibly positive. We have consolidated the good things that we did last year.

"We have looked where we can make a step-up and we have been layering that in and developing the players' skill-sets so that we can play a little bit more of an expansive (game) when necessary, when it is on."

Irish Independent

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