Friday 24 January 2020

Munster hit with out-half injury crisis as Carbery ruled out of Six Nations - and facing possible four-month layoff

3 January 2020; Joey Carbery of Munster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 10 match between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
3 January 2020; Joey Carbery of Munster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 10 match between Ulster and Munster at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Munster coach Johann van Graan has ruled Joey Carbery out for between two and four months, meaning he will miss the Six Nations due to the wrist injury he picked up against Ulster on Friday night.

The South African is dealing with an out-half injury crisis as he sweats on the fitness of JJ Hanrahan, who trained away from the squad today as they prepare for Sunday's crunch Champions Cup clash against Racing 92.

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With Tyler Bleyendaal sidelined, Munster will make a call on the Kerryman on Friday, with academy out-half Ben Healy and centre Rory Scannell on stand-by to start if he can't recover 100% from his hamstring injury.

Having just got Carbery back from the ankle injury he carried to the World Cup, van Graan said the 24-year-old would be out for a "considerable" amount of time, later clarifying that his recovery from surgery could keep him out until April at least.

"That's rugby, I'm gutted for Joey as an individual," he said.

"I care about the players and speaking to him on Monday afternoon when we got the news, obviously it's not nice news for him. He worked hard to get back into the position, he played the full 80 for the first time for quite a while and now he is out for a considerable amount of time.

"That's rugby, that's life. He'll be back, he's a class man and a brilliant rugby player.

"He'll come back stronger, take his time and I can't wait to have him back in the future."

Van Graan is sweating on the fitness of Hanrahan, Andrew Conway and Mike Haley.

"We just trained out there, JJ did a bit of the team training and the true test will be on Friday, but we'll test him on Friday and if he comes through he'll play on the weekend," van Graan said.

"I won't risk him if the medical team says he's not 100% right. If he does, hopefully he does. If he doesn't, we're going to back Ben and Rory. We'll make a decision on the two of them, we've backed our squad the whole way.

"Hopefully he makes it, but if he doesn't then we've been in this position before and we back the next man in. I'd say 50/50 is a good way to put it. Importantly, he wants to be ready. He is an experienced No 10, he knows the team needs him for possibly 80 minutes so he needs to be at 100% to perform.

"He'll always put the team first, if he's ready on Friday and his body is ready then he'll tell us. If not he'll put the team first and it's next man up.

"We as a group back whoever is in, Ben has grown quite a lot over the last few weeks - he's been part of game-day warm-ups, he's been part of the squad and Rory has trained there.

"We've been in this position quite a bit, we've literally had one fly-half and when we've had 6/2 split (on the bench) Rory was covering in any case. It's not something new for the team, we'll just back whoever is in that position on Sunday.

"Andrew did a bit of team training today, we'll make a call on him on Friday, Mikey, we'll take it day by day as well, I believe he'll be ready for Sunday but we'll make all of these decisions on Friday.

"The way the draw worked out, we played on a Friday and we've a nine-day turnaround, so that extra two days does help.

"We've got a squad, whoever is selected on Friday will go to Paris and will go with real intent and excitement against a quality side in Europe.

"For this season, in Europe, it's our biggest game yet."

Munster have added scrum-half Craig Casey, back-row Gavin Coombes and hooker Diarmuid Barron to their European squad, with injured Tadhg Beirne and departed Alby Mathewson and Jed Holloway deregistered.

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