Munster allay Flannery and Leamy fears
MUNSTER have played down fears that the careers of injury-plagued duo Jerry Flannery and Denis Leamy are in doubt.
International hooker Flannery has been beset by calf trouble, and the latest in a series of comebacks was stalled during the build-up to the World Cup in New Zealand last year.
"He's been training, but there are certain protocols to go through and certain areas that Jerry needs to get back up to, not just for the medical staff, but for Jerry too," said Munster coach Tony McGahan. "He has had a horrendous few years with regard to the injury. There have been a lot of disappointments that he has faced and we are hoping he makes the decision that he continues to play. But we're not at that point yet.
"There's always a concern given the injury that he's had, whether he can continue with the set-backs he's had. He needs to feel there's improvement there and a long-term ability to go forward with the injury.
"When that happens, club rugby will be his first port of call. There is no exact time-frame, but he has been training with us for the last two weeks."
Meanwhile, Leamy is due to undergo surgery on a hip problem, the recurrence of which last week prompted worries that he may have to contemplate his future after a similarly injury-wracked run.
"There's been a lot of clarity given since we saw the specialist. There is a specific part that can be fixed, then they can move on. It is really positive news for Denis and the club," said McGahan.
Last year, Ian Dowling and Barry Murphy were forced to retire prematurely. This season, David Wallace, Felix Jones, Keith Earls and Mike Sherry have all suffered lengthy absences, while Doug Howlett has been ruled out for the season. Despite that, Munster are unbeaten in the Heineken Cup and wins over Northampton and Castres will seal a home quarter-final.
"We're in a much better place this year in terms of our willingness to fight for everything," said Paul O'Connell.
"Down through the years, we've always pulled it out of the fire, late in the pool stages or whatever.
"But this time it's different. We came into this season knowing that we had to make every minute of every game count."