Munster's scrum-half injury issues worsen but Cloete returns to training

Munster have been delivered another blow to their scrum-half stocks after Johann van Graan revealed Neil Cronin faces several weeks out injured with a shoulder injury following last Friday’s defeat at Glasgow Warriors.

The southern province must already plan without first-choice number nine Conor Murray, whose injury was on Monday confirmed as a neck problem, faces an uncertain time away from the game with some reports suggesting the Ireland and British & Irish Lions star could even miss the November internationals.

Munster have signed former All Black Alby Mathewson on a four-month contract as injury cover for Murray though head coach van Graan is still waiting for the experienced New Zealander to receive his work permit.

Cronin’s injury compounds the situation. The 25-year-old, enjoying a fast start to his second spell at Munster having signed from Garryowen during the summer, was injured when he was cleaned out of a ruck by Glasgow’s Callum Gibbins.

“It’s a right shoulder injury, he could be out for quite a while,” Van Graan said on Monday as Munster began preparations for Friday night’s Guinness PRO14 game against Ospreys in Cork.

Munster also lost second row Billy Holland to a rib cartilage injury during the 25-10 defeat at Scotstoun and is receiving medical treatment with van Graan saying the lock could be out “for a few weeks.”

While confirming that Murray had suffered a neck injury, the Munster boss would not give a timeline on the scrum-half’s return but repeated that he was continuing to follow rehabilitation under the supervision of the medical department.

There was more positive news with van Graan revealing that openside flanker Chris Cloete had returned to team training and was available for selection to face the Ospreys on Friday.

Munster have also handed a three-month development contract to Tipperary-born prop Cronan Gleeson, who had trained with the squad this summer and played against both London Irish and Exeter Chiefs in pre-season.

Meanwhile, Jack McGrath is set to miss Leinster's upcoming games against the Dragons and Edinburgh.

The province have announced the Ireland prop will be sidelined for a few weeks due to a knee injury he has suffered in training.

By Simon Lewis
Rugby and Golf Correspondent

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