Ireland boost as Stander returns to Reds training
CJ Stander returned to light training with Munster yesterday, igniting hopes of a return for Ireland's Six Nations clash with clash with France on March 10.
The No 8 was ruled out of action after sustaining a facial injury against England but yesterday returned alongside second-row Tadhg Beirne.
Beirne and Stander did some running and non-contact training at Munster's base in University of Limerick where winger Andrew Conway returned to full training following a calf injury.
"Tadhg and CJ are still a few weeks away. They are on the normal procedure back, it's good that both of them have started running.
"Both of them are on their feet," Munster head coach Johann van Graan said.
"Andrew did a bit of training with us today so we'll see how he progresses later in the week. We saw last week with our medical side he recovered really well. We'll see how it reacts tomorrow after training today."
Van Graan added that Conor Murray's current form after a long lay-off is not a cause for concern and that he expects him to be back to his best soon.
Van Graan, who spent last week in Irish camp including the game in Scotland, said that massive standards are expected of players like Murray and that there is no reason to be perturbed by any dip in form.
"No, I don't think anybody should worry about that. Conor is a world-class player and everybody just expecting that he kicks every kick perfectly," he added.
Elsewhere, Niall Scannell, John Ryan, Billy Holland and Chris Farrell have returned to the Munster set-up this week from the international camp and could feature on Friday night against the Southern Kings.
However, it is noticeable that loosehead Dave Kilcoyne has not been released, suggesting he could feature against Italy, while Joey Carbery has also been retained.
And there is also good news for Munster with versatile back-rower Jack O'Donoghue poised to return to action for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury in the PRO14 semi-final loss against Leinster last May. "There is a slight chance he might be on the bench, but I'm definitely not going to force him back. He's such an important player for us."
Van Graan, who was involved in 74 Tests with his native South Africa, said he enjoyed his week with the Irish camp and while he returns to duty this week with Munster with their Champions Cup quarter-final against Edinburgh now just over six weeks away.