Head coach Johann van Graan confirmed that Joey Carbery is “highly unlikely” to be available for Munster’s Heineken Champions Cup semi-final showdown with Saracens on Saturday.
The talented out-half pulled up with a hamstring injury in the first half of the quarter-final win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield less than three weeks ago.
It was a recurrence of the same injury he suffered during the Six Nations where he was unavailable after Round 2 as Ireland got their campaign back on track with a win over Scotland.
The 23-year-old has sat out Munster’s last two victories in the PRO14 over the Cardiff Blues and Benetton and it’s looking increasingly likely that the southern province’s biggest game of the season will come too soon.
“It’s still highly unlikely,” van Graan told the media at the University of Limerick on Monday.
“We’ll just take it day by day and then make a final call later in the week.
“Like I said last week, we won’t take any chances with him. If he’s ready, he’s ready. If he’s not then we won’t take that chance.”
Of course, Munster are blessed with some in-form out-half backups in the shape of Tyler Bleyendaal and JJ Hanrahan.
Hanrahan produced a man-of-the-match performance in the win over Benetton on Friday while Bleyendaal was instrumental when he replaced Carbery in the first-half against Edinburgh.
Bleyendaal started the 2017 semi-final defeat to Saracens at the Aviva Stadium where, like his teammates, he endured a difficult day so Saturday’s fixture offers a chance of redemption for the 28-year-old Kiwi.
“It’s a total new game,” van Graan said.
“Two years is a very long time in rugby, a week is a very long time in rugby. So, I think we’ll just look at where we are at the moment and build from the previous performances.
“I thought the team played really well against Cardiff and a lot of changes in the team against Treviso. We’ll start again this week building up to a massive European semi-final.”