Rassie Erasmus: This was the time to bring Conor Murray back

By Simon Lewis

Munster boss Rassie Erasmus believes the province were right not to rush Conor Murray back from injury and both team and player will benefit now the Ireland and Lions scrum-half has returned to action.

Murray, 28, made his comeback today from a shoulder injury after eight weeks on the sidelines having suffered a stinger to his left shoulder in Ireland's Six Nations loss to Wales on March 10.

He played 20 minutes off the replacements' bench in Munster's crushing 50-14 victory over derby rivals Connacht at Thomond Park as the Reds topped the Guinness Pro12 league table at the end of the regular season.

Director of rugby Erasmus said Murray's return will be a huge positive for his side as they head into their Pro12 semi-final at home to Ospreys on May 20.

“He was looking solid,” Erasmus said of Murray. “I'm so glad he came through the week. We all thought this would have happened five or six weeks ago.

“It was tough to lose a European semi-final (to Saracens, without Murray). I always think what would have happened if he was there but then I thought Duncan (Williams) played so well there.

“We didn't jeopardise his career. We didn't take unnecessary risks. This was the time to bring him back. I think he looked pretty sharp and hopefully tomorrow morning when he wakes up, he doesn't have too many symptoms or after effects. That's positive.”

Erasmus was delighted with his team's effort in demolishing Connacht, particularly given the number of frontline starters he had rested or dropped to the bench for what was a dead rubber in the final round of the league programme.

“I guess if you make so many changes (11 from the side which beat Treviso the previous week) it's always a risk but the way the year's been going with us, we've been forced into making a lot of changes and the boys really adapted well.

“Those guys who started deserved their chance and they took their chance really well. They're the reigning Pro12 champions and so we're proud of that and we'll definitely enjoy it but I'll guess we'll have to move as quickly as possible to start focusing on that semi-final.

“I'm glad for the players, really glad, the way they performed today.”

The one sour note for Munster was a second-half injury for Alex Wootton, with Erasmus speculating that the wing had suffered a serious hamstring injury.

Centre Dan Goggin left the field for a Head Injury Assessment following a clash of heads with Connacht's replacement fly-half Marnitz Boshoff, who also needed stitches in a jawline cut.

Connacht prop Finlay Bealham also failed to return from his HIA as head coach Pat Lam assesses his options for the province's European Champions Cup qualification play-off against either Northampton Saints on May 20.

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