Injured Reds trio will not play unless ‘100% fit’

Joey Carbery during Munster Rugby Squad Training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Munster will not rush back injured trio Joey Carbery, Keith Earls and Dave Kilcoyne for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 clash at home to Connacht unless they are 100% fit, coach Johann van Graan has insisted.

Already qualified for the PRO14 play-offs and assured of at least a home quarter-final ahead of this weekend’s final round, they could still secure a home semi-final, skipping the quarters, if they beat Connacht and see Conference A leaders Glasgow Warriors lose to Edinburgh. Van Graan will have those knockout games in mind when he assesses the medical reports on the three Ireland internationals.

Fly-half Carbery and wing Earls both missed Saturday’s European semi-final defeat to Saracens with hamstring and thigh issues, respectively, while loosehead prop Kilcoyne limped out of that game with an ankle injury in the second half of the 32-16 loss.

Carbery has played just 35 minutes of rugby — against Edinburgh in the Champions Cup quarter-final win on March 30 — since playing for Ireland against Scotland in the Six Nations on February 9.

Asked if the fly-half may be available to face Connacht, van Graan replied: “As soon as he becomes available, we’ll pick him. We’re not going to rush him back, we’ve already qualified for at least a home quarter-final, so there’s still a lot of rugby to be played. He’s been injured twice with hamstring injuries so we’d like to give him some sort of training time and then we’ll put him back in.”

Earls pulled up with a tight thigh during the warm-up of the PRO14 game against Cardiff Blues in Cork on April 5, with van Graan saying:

It’s a muscle injury, so the information from our medical side is, once he’s 100% ready, we’ll put him back on the field.

As for Kilcoyne, the Munster boss said: “He’ll hopefully be able to train later in the week. It’s the same thing, he’s been one of our unsung heroes, he’s played literally every game.”

Munster confirmed the departure of centre Jaco Taute, who was unveiled by Leicester Tigers as a new signing for next season. Taute, 27, will join Leinster back Noel Reid, also announced by the English club yesterday, at Welford Road after finding game time limited following his return from a long-term knee injury and falling behind Rory Scannell and Chris Farrell, as well as Dan Goggin and Sammy Arnold, in the midfield pecking order.

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