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“Joey and Earlsy Were Both 95% And We Decided Not To Take A Chance”

Earls Carbery

Sean McMahon reporting from Thomond Park

Munster head coach Johann van Graan is hoping to have both Keith Earls (thigh) and Joey Carbery (hamstring) fit for their Guinness PRO14 semi-final with Leinster in two weeks. 

Munster have been without Earls and Carbery for the last number of weeks.

Both players made their last appearances when they defeated Edinburgh in the quarter-final of the Champions Cup at Murrayfield at the end of March.

With Earls and Carbery being Munster’s two most potent attacking threats, their absence is noticeable as the southern province’s attack has stuttered in recent weeks.

Earls Carbery

Those deficiencies were evident in Thomond Park on Saturday afternoon where Munster dominated territory and possession for long periods yet failed to cross for a single try.

Earls was originally named in Friday’s team announcement but he and prop Jeremy Loughman were pulled from the squad after the captain’s run.

It seems that Carbery was also planned to be included from the off but a late decision was made to “pull” the duo from the team.

“Look, Keith and Joey, I’ll just answer the question I think is coming my way,” van Graan said during the post-match press conference.

Earls Carbery

“Keith and Joey are very close to full fitness. Both of them trained in the week, we decided yesterday to pull both of them because they’re, one, very important players for Ireland, two very important players for Munster.”

Van Graan added that both are close to full fitness and that they didn’t want to take a risk due to the recurring nature of their respective injuries.

“It’s a knockout game and because it’s recurring injuries, we didn’t want to take a chance,” van Graan continued.

“Joey and Earlsy were both 95% and we decided not to take a chance. The positive news is that we have two more weeks now, so, hopefully, they’ll be 100% once we get to the semi-final.”

Van Graan also provided an update on Tadhg Beirne. The former Scarlets man was substituted early in the second half but the head coach revealed that it was a tactical decision and that the 27-year-old did not pick up a knock.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter