Revolving door for Connacht injuries

Connacht’s Niall Murray is embraced by Shamus Hurley-Langton and Matthew Devine after scoring  against Zebre Parma last month. (Photo: Mike Shaughnessy)

Connacht’s Niall Murray is embraced by Shamus Hurley-Langton and Matthew Devine after scoring against Zebre Parma last month. (Photo: Mike Shaughnessy)

Connacht Rugby has been dealt a blow ahead of the remaining URC fixtures with the loss of JJ Hanrahan.

The 31-year-old, who has started 12 of 18 fixtures this season, suffered an ACL injury in the win over Dragons. Following a scan, he will now undergo surgery later this month before beginning a rehabilitation plan.

Ireland star Mack Hansen remains sidelined, and head coach Pete Wilkins says the picture will should be clearer in coming months.

“Expectations are flexible at the moment. Hansen is a week-by-week basis, but the sooner the better. But we will not take any risks for his sake was well as Ireland’s; we just want to get him right.”

Cian Prendergast will be unavailable this week due to a thumb injury, and Wilkins says the “best case scenario” for the back row player is a return against the Stormers. “There was no fracture. The joint was dislocated. It’s now about getting mobility.”

Prop Denis Buckley is also ruled out for a number of weeks with a shoulder injury, but the good news is the timely return of Jack Carty, having recovered from a hamstring, and Byron Ralston (ankle ).

Jack Aungier (neck ) and Sean Jansen (groin ) are not yet ruled out for Munster, but a decision will be made after assessments are pending.

With three rounds remaining, nine points separate Connacht, currently in sixth place, from Munster in third. Recent wins have provided Wilkins’ side with much-needed fresh impetus, giving them confidence heading to Thomond Park.

“We have momentum from those two games - the Zebre and Dragons fixtures - which set us up to go to Thomond Park. The majority of our group has experienced beating Munster, and it breeds belief, but at the same time it is always a heck of a challenge going there. There’s a great rivalry, and hopefully we will do it justice on the weekend,” Wilkins says.

Wilkins is confident if Connacht can win two of the last three fixtures, it should be enough to make the top eight.

“As ever we will do out best to win this week and assess again, but every time I have a target in mind, it changes by the following Monday morning. I think two wins would be great in terms of putting us in the mix.”

There are no updates on Shayne Bolton (thigh ), Eoin de Buitlear (hamstring ), Mack Hansen (shoulder ), Diarmuid Kilgallen(shoulder ) and Michael McDonald (foot ).

 

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