KEITH EARLS WILL have to go through a ‘longer term’ rehabilitation period on the thigh injury which has kept him out of the current Six Nations campaign in Ireland.
The Munster man was named in Andy Farrell’s squad ahead of the Championship but picked up the injury during pre-Six Nations training camp in Ireland.
He left the Ireland squad and returned to his home province to tend to his injury and hopes of seeing Earls again before the end of the Six Nations don’t seem too high.
The 34-year-old currently sits on 96 Test caps for Ireland and might have hoped to hit the 100 cap mark in this Championship, but he’s back with Munster instead.
“He’s in and around the place at the moment so he’s part of our leadership group,” senior Munster coach Stephen Larkham said this week.
“He contributes as much as he can in this direction. He’s currently in a longer-term detox program, so when are we expecting him back? Not for the short term.
“Once he gets out of, like, four or five weeks, the timeline can be very variable depending on how they react in the first two weeks.”
However, Larkham has not ruled Earls out completely of a return to action during this Six Nations window.
“Well, we’re not sure yet,” Larkham said. “We have to see how he… it’s the start with the injury, so we have to see how he progresses in those first two weeks and then make a decision after that.”
Munster heads into Friday night’s United Rugby Championship clash against Edinburgh at Thomond Park, boosted by the availability of Gavin Coombes, Dave Kilcoyne and Craig Casey, who have been released from the Ireland camp for the weekend.
Hooker Niall Scannell has returned from injury and is also available, but fullback Jack O’Sullivan will be out through illness.
Loosehead prop Liam O’Connor, second line Thomas Ahern and full back Jack Daly are also currently sidelined, while Springbok pair Damian de Allende and Jason Jenkins remain sidelined with abdominal injuries.
Damian de Allende is back.
Credit: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
The South African duo hope to return soon.
“They’re working at the moment and apparently they’re working well, that’s the only update I have,” Larkham said.
“What is their timeline? I’m not 100% sure but this week’s update is that things are on schedule with these guys at the moment. But they will not play this week.
In the background, the Springboks lock down RG Snyman who continues his rehab of the re-ruptured ACL in his knee.
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Snyman suffered the cruel injury in October and it was expected to end his season.
“He’s progressing well,” Larkham said of Snyman. “He’s actually trained quite well, the feedback we’re getting is that he’s very motivated right now and he’s going through his rehabilitation programme.
“I think everything is on track in terms of the initial schedule that we’ve been talking about – and I don’t know what it is – but it’s on track and rehab is going well.”
Munster will be hoping to get back to winning ways tomorrow night in Limerick, especially as Edinburgh are directly above them in fourth in the URC standings.
Last weekend’s loss to Glasgow hasn’t gone over well with the Munster squad in recent days.
“It’s good to be back home,” Larkham said. “We’ve been out for a while, including the bye at Zebre and then last week, and it’s going to be good to play in front of a full Thomond Park and I think that helps.
“The ability to play at home means we don’t have to travel and we have very good support. The pitch is going to be familiar, the weather is going to be tricky from what we’re seeing at the moment. , that’s what we love.
“I think there’s nothing better from our perspective than playing in the rain and torrential wind and a full house and trying to get the opposition here and playing in those conditions. ”