Munster boost as key quartet return to fitness with 30-man squad named for URC final trip to Cape Town
Munster will have RG Snyman, Conor Murray, Malakai Fekitoa and Calvin Nash on board as they depart for Cape Town today ahead of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship final against the Stormers.
The quartet were all ruled out of the semi-final win over Leinster, with concussions suffered in the quarter-final win over Glasgow Warriors, but they’ve followed the return-to-play protocols and are expected to be available to Graham Rowntree.
Ben Healy and Jean Kleyn also suffered head injuries against Leinster, but the longer run-in has allowed them to complete the protocols in time to be available for selection.
The return of the four players, who have been starters all season, gives Rowntree and his coaches some big decisions to make this week.
Nash has been one of Munster’s players of the year but is up against the experience of Keith Earls for the No 14 shirt, while Craig Casey played 80 minutes against Leinster and will fight hard to keep Murray on the bench.
Fekitoa is likely to go straight back into the midfield, with Jack Crowley reverting to No 10 and Healy on the bench, while Snyman’s return throws up the issue of whether to switch Tadhg Beirne back to No 6 and move Peter O’Mahony or keep John Hodnett in the starting No 7 shirt.
The champion Stormers are concerned that the poor pitch at the DHL Stadium, which hosted a monster truck event on the playing surface last month, will hold them back against a Munster side that won in Cape Town last month – particularly at scrum-time.
The Stormers moved a Currie Cup game away from the stadium last weekend to give the pitch a chance to recover.
"I doubt it can recover to its pre-Monster Jam (state), but I am sure it's going to be better (than the quarters and semis)," coach John Dobson said.
"That is our home now, and it's miserable taking the Currie Cup team (away). It's not good, but it's going to be better than the Bulls and Connacht games. It's going to be frustrating come scrum time because we think that come scrum time, that will be one of our opportunities.
"You saw what Leinster did to them at the back end of the game (the URC semi). But it's tricky on that field. We will find other ways to win it.
"They’ve got some big players returning like RG Snyman, Conor Murray, (Malakai) Fekitoa and somebody else who I’m forgetting. So it’s gonna be a monstrous clash. They’re really a good team.”
Munster Travelling Squad
Forwards:Dave Kilcoyne, Jeremy Loughman, Josh Wycherley; Diarmuid Barron, Niall Scannell, Scott Buckley; Stephen Archer, Roman Salanoa; Tadhg Beirne, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Fineen Wycherley; Gavin Coombes, John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen, Jack O’Donoghue, Peter O’Mahony.
Backs: Craig Casey, Ethan Coughlan, Conor Murray; Joey Carbery, Jack Crowley, Ben Healy; Malakai Fekitoa, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell; Shane Daly, Keith Earls, Mike Haley, Calvin Nash.