Flannery gives Munster boost
Toulon game could be hooker's first in four months
AFTER an early season dominated by player unavailability, Munster received a welcome boost yesterday when Jerry Flannery was named in the squad to take on Toulon in the Heineken Cup fixture at Thomond Park this Saturday.
Flannery managed only six matches for Munster last season and, with Denis Fogarty on the long-term injury list, his return brings vital experience to the squad.
Munster are perilously short on outside backs, but coach Tony McGahan said they will just have to get on with it. "We're certainly at the bottom end in terms of players who we have registered for the Heineken Cup," said McGahan. "But we are used to it; you don't get too many weeks in the season where you have a perfect run-in."
Leinster may go into this weekend's important match with Saracens at Wembley without their most inspirational figure: centre Brian O'Driscoll. The medics in Dublin are awaiting the results of a scan on O'Driscoll's latest injury, a hamstring problem suffered during the impressive five-try victory over Racing Metro at the weekend.
Saracens continue to break new ground by playing the United States Eagles smack in the middle of the capital. The match will be held on November 9 at the Artillery Garden.
Meanwhile, it takes more than a knife attack at the dead of night to drive John Mitchell out of town. The former England coach intends to continue his work in South Africa with the Golden Lions provincial side, despite being stabbed twice during a break-in at his apartment in Johannesburg at the weekend -- an assault that left him in need of hospital treatment for wounds to his thigh and upper arm.
"I'm still very committed to the Lions. I won't let this deter me" insisted Mitchell, whose team has made much-needed progress at domestic Currie Cup level since he joined them from the Australian Super 14 franchise Western Force earlier in the year.
Mitchell, who coached the New Zealand team at the 2003 World Cup, underwent trauma counselling after the incident. "It was very beneficial," he said. "I now have a process to work through by myself. This was a very unfortunate incident and I wouldn't wish it on any other person. I'm not feeling great, obviously, but my injuries are not too bad: I thank God they missed the artery in my leg when they stabbed me. I can't dwell on it. I need to move forward."
Mitchell has his work cut out. This year, the Lions finished bottom of the Super Rugby pile after losing all 13 of their matches.