Munster Rugby are sweating on the fitness of a number of key players ahead of their PRO14 season opener against Dragons in Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon.
With 12 members of their squad currently at the Rugby World Cup with Ireland, head coach Johann van Graan will have to shuffle his pack ahead of the new season with a number of academy players expected to get game time.
However, the South African may be down a few more players for the weekend as the province have confirmed that Darren Sweetnam, Sammy Arnold, Dan Goggin and Rhys Marshall have picked up knocks.
Their involvement in Saturday’s clash with the Welsh side will be reviewed as the week progresses.
Both Darren Sweetnam and Rhys Marshall were involved in Munster’s 40-31 loss to Connacht in their final preseason game at the Sportsground last weekend.
Eight academy players have made their senior debuts over the past two week’s for the province and speaking at the PRO14 launch in Dublin, van Graan said he is hoping to find a nice blend of youth and experience over the next few weeks.
“Experience is always good specifically when you have so many academy lads. You can’t just play a young team and you can’t just play your starters week in, week out so that balance is very important.
“That’s what we tried to do [against London Irish] is pair up some younger guys like Craig Casey with JJ [Hanrahan], make sure the mix of our team is good. It’s important to have experience but it’s most important to get our academy players on the field. I thought the ones who we gave opportunities to did really well.”
Meanwhile, there was some good news on the injury front as Alex Wootton has stepped up his rehabilitation from a knee injury and has been introduced to limited training.