Friday 24 January 2020

Van Graan relieved to welcome back Carbery from injury woes

Munster head coach Johann van Graan
Munster head coach Johann van Graan
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Positives were in short supply at the end of a bitterly frustrating evening for Munster, but Joey Carbery's long-awaited return unquestionably topped the list.

The loudest roar of the night was reserved for Carbery, who came off the bench for his first appearance of the season, having struggled with an ankle injury since August and throughout the World Cup.

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The out-half did his best to turn the game in Munster's favour and showed flashes of his class for the 24 minutes he was on the pitch.

One raking kick in behind the Leinster defence caught the eye, while he almost made a crucial line-break, only to be snaffled at the last second.

Munster were worryingly blunt in attack and with a massive Champions Cup game against Racing 92 to come on January 12, Carbery's return is ideally timed.

The 24-year-old is expected to get more game time against Ulster on Friday as Johann van Graan welcomes back his big hitters ahead of the trip to Paris.

The Munster coach does, however, have mounting injury concerns over several players including JJ Hanrahan, Dave Kilcoyne, Tommy O'Donnell and Chris Cloete.


"He (Carbery) got on a bit earlier than we wanted," explained Van Graan. "JJ was struggling with a stiff hammy, but I thought he did well. Obviously it was his first game back in a long time. I thought he read play pretty well, a few good kicks into the corner and one almost line-break, but it will take some time.

"But real positive to get him out onto the pitch and through 25 minutes of play, so from that perspective a real positive from our side.

"A lot of the guys who came off the field have a few bangs and bruises. We have to manage them, so a tricky situation but that is rugby. It's week 11 coming up in this 13 week block, so get the emotion from this one out of the way, recover and then start again on Monday."

The likes of Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Peter O'Mahony will return to training today as Munster look to get back to winning ways against an in-form Ulster side before the European action in Paris.

"The guys who have had two weeks off will be back on Monday," Van Graan added.

"Obviously, a few played against Connacht, so they will only be back against Racing, so we will have a few guys back on Monday.

"Unfortunately, it looks like we will have more guys out than we will have back, which in certain positions is key, but we will take our time then reassess and take it from there."

Irish Independent

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