Munster will have to plan for some crucial fixtures without the services of their star out-half Joey Carbery.
Carbery is currently sidelined with an ankle injury which he originally picked up in the Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Italy at the Aviva Stadium back in August.
The 24-year-old missed the remainder of the preparatory fixtures against Wales and England – he also missed the opening World Cup victory over Scotland in Yokohama before getting 19 minutes under his belt as a second-half substitute in the loss to Japan in Shizuoka.
Carbery was used as a replacement in the win over Samoa and the quarter-final loss to New Zealand but it seems his efforts in the far east have aggravated the injury further.
Munster head coach Johann van Graan, who was speaking in Cardiff on Wednesday at the launch of the Heineken Champions Cup, said that Carbery will “be out for some time.”
“Joey is going to be out for some time,” Van Graan told The Irish Times. “We got to make sure he gets his strength back and we get that ankle fully functional. When he is back we will try and get him on the field when he is ready.”
The head coach continued:
“I honestly can’t say because I don’t know [return date]. Because of the type of injury, he is definitely not going to be back in the next few weeks I can tell you that.
“At this stage, it is very difficult for the medical team to determine.”
Carbery underwent surgery after he originally suffered the injury against Italy in August and van Graan confirmed they won’t be revisiting that route for the out-half’s recovery.
“No, they are not going that route. Because he has had it for quite a while, the most important thing now is Joey’s health. He is a Munster player. He is under my watch now so we got to look after him. Get his ankle right. Make sure he is good.”
Munster take on Ulster this weekend in the first of this season’s interpros before beginning their difficult Champions Cup pool stage campaign against the Ospreys and Racing 92.
In December, they face back-to-back clashes with reigning champions Saracens who are currently under the spotlight for alleged breaches of the Premiership salary cap.
Munster will be hoping that Carbery will be fit for those pivotal games against the English champions.