Thursday 21 November 2019

Conor Murray mystery and doubt over Alby Mathewson leaves Munster fretful

Munster scrum-half Conor Murray. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster scrum-half Conor Murray. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Johann van Graan remains unable to say whether scrum-half Conor Murray could feature for Munster in either of their upcoming Champions Cup games and the potential unavailability of the scrum-half could be exacerbated by doubts hanging over the man signed to cover his mystery absence, with a reported neck injury to Alby Mathewson.

The former All Black was limping heavily before being replaced by Duncan Williams and his coach admitted being concerned about the "leg injury".

Mathewson was signed as temporary cover for Murray, who has yet to play since completing the 80 minutes of the deciding Test of the summer tour victory over Australia.

Although he has been pictured training with his team-mates, the scrum-half is listed as having a neck injury in the injury bulletins and his coach is unwilling to comment on his absence.

Asked if he hoped to have Murray available for either of the upcoming European games, Van Graan said: "I can't comment on Conor at this stage. As soon as we know anything I'll let you guys know."

The intrigue surrounding Murray deepened further yesterday when Simon Zebo posted a picture to his Instagram story that suggested his old team-mate had returned to Paris for the second time in three weeks to watch Racing 92's defeat to Lyon, which took place at the same time as his team's loss to Leinster.

Murray is out of contract at the end of the season and while Racing have distanced themselves from a move for the world-class scrum-half, the image could cause a stir at Lansdowne Road, where the IRFU are preparing to make a bumper offer to the No 9 to remain in Ireland.

Munster's immediate focus is getting him back on the pitch, but his return date is no clearer. That makes Mathewson's injury all the more concerning for Van Graan.

"I'm worried about him," the South African said. "I thought he was again excellent tonight. I thought his decision-making gave us an extra spark and I thought he managed the game really well tonight, and hopefully he's going to be ready for the game next weekend."

Munster will issue an injury update today ahead of their visit to Sandy Park to face an unbeaten Exeter Chiefs team who beat them well in pre-season.

They beat Bath 39-24 at the Rec on Friday night, while Leinster's pool opponents Wasps were beaten at home by Gloucester, with influential scrum-half Dan Robson limping off to add to their worries.

Leo Cullen had no fresh injury worries out of Saturday's derby win and will welcome Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, Scott Fardy, Joe Tomane and Tadhg Furlong back into the equation for Friday's game.

Irish Independent

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