Thursday 13 December 2018

Irish coach Andy Farrell extends stay with Munster as Zebo gets the all-clear

Munster are continuing to get some hired help in the shape of Irish defence coach Andy Farrell. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster are continuing to get some hired help in the shape of Irish defence coach Andy Farrell. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Brighter news for Munster ahead of their Champions Cup double-header, on the field at least, even it involves one of the players who won't be with them next season.

After Simon Zebo took a hefty crack on the ribs against Ospreys on Saturday, he trooped off at half-time with the pallor of a man who wouldn't be launching himself into action any time soon.

Yet he bounded back into the fray as Munster launched their week of training at UL HQ yesterday.

"All smiles," beamed new coach Johann van Graan. That at least counters the devastation wrought upon the side's midfield, not to mention the sad sight of promising prop Liam O'Connor pitching up at rehab on crutches a couple of hours earlier.

The academy player's knee injury will be further assessed today but the portents are not promising.

"It doesn't look good at this stage," was Van Graan's assessment. "We will know more pretty soon. But it looks like a long-term injury."

With James Cronin also in the infirmary, pressure will heap upon Dave Kilcoyne and, perhaps a certain David Nucifora who, as if he hasn't enough to be getting on with, may have to help Munster get a short-term signing to ease some short-term pain.

"I wouldn't want to speculate at this stage," added van Graan.

"There are structures in place to get possible additions. We are in constant communication with the IRFU. If the need really arises we will have a look."

That may be too late so behind the scenes scrambling may already be taking place. In case Rassie Erasmus didn't tell him a thousand times already, not everything in this gig is under his control. Especially when it comes to the green stuff.

"Anything is possible. Our big focus is Leicester this weekend. Once we know more about the injuries, we've got plans in place. There's constant communication between David and myself and Garrett (Fitzgerald, Munster CEO). I won't like to comment on any financial things. I don't want to speak about things that I don't know anything about. So, it gets handled. I know what I want and at this stage we'll wait for confirmation of the injuries and then we'll look at our planning ahead."

For now, that extends to Munster continuing to get some hired help in the shape of Irish defence coach Andy Farrell (pictured), as talks continue with JP Ferreira.

"We are looking at a few names," Van Graan noted intriguingly.

"All credit to him for his enthusiasm and what he delivered last week. He's a fantastic guy, he could be at his home. But he is coming over for two weeks.

"And thanks to Joe Schmidt for the helping hand. He will be in tomorrow and Wednesday and the same next week.

"For the foreseeable future, against foreign opposition, he will be part of the coaching team."

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