Thursday 23 November 2017

Erasmus won't rush O'Mahony return

Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Rassie Erasmus. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Rassie Erasmus says he is in no rush to push his captain Peter O'Mahony back into action after a year out with a knee injury.

A few weeks ago O'Mahony himself said that he hoped to be back by this weekend at the latest, but the director of rugby is happy to give him another week or two, such is the form of his other back-rows. Billy Holland and Jack O'Donoghue started as flankers last weekend and are both in super form. The duo are in the top three tacklers in the Pro12 after three rounds, while Ireland international CJ Stander returned at No 8 in their win over Dragons, with Dave O'Callaghan also in contention.

Erasmus has a long-term plan for O'Mahony, though, and after Munster rushed Tyler Bleyendaal back from injury too quickly in the past, he says lessons have been learned.

"We are just being over-cautious. We have got a bulk of loose forwards fit and available and playing well. I'd rather take a week or so longer. There is no setback with him. He was thinking game three or four, but because the guys are fit and playing really well, why risk him? A guy like him will always be missed on the field, but we might even stretch till after next week.

"But listen he is taking part in mauling, in scrumming and everything. We've got an opportunity to be cautious here and we are taking it that way. Also we would like him to be fit next year come May so we would like to make sure that he is 100pc almost like we did with Tyler now. I think we have learned our lessons previously with Tyler. If we had another week we would wait another week."

Read more: Munster chief hails new high-performance unit

According to the director of rugby, Keith Earls is 'touch and go' to play in their first game at Thomond Park this season against Edinburgh on Saturday after pulling up with a hamstring issue in the lead-up to their win against Dragons last week. The news is positive for Simon Zebo though, who will return next week for the visit of Zebre after a broken rib.

Concussion is also an issue this week. Tommy O'Donnell is an absentee again due to the concussion he suffered against Cardiff, while Collie O'Shea and Andrew Conway are both following return-to-play protocols after the trip to Newport.

Robin Copeland made his return in club action for Young Munster last weekend, and will be given another week, but Stephen Archer and Rory Scannell have both returned to training. New arrival Jaco Taute is still awaiting his work permit.

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