O’Connell wait goes on
Rob Penney will not rush Paul O’Connell back into the Munster squad even if it means being without the influential lock for another couple of months.
O’Connell has been out with a knee injury since the latter stages of the RaboDirect PRO12 last season and was forced to miss Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand.
He had targeted a return in time for the start of the new campaign but he has yet to feature for Munster this season as his recovery continues.
While Simon Zebo returns to the fold this week for the game against Newport Gwent Dragons, O’Connell is still battling to be fit and Penney will only bring him back when he believes he is ready to play.
“It’s probably a week to week thing. We’ve had a lot of discussions. When Paul feels like he’s ready he’ll be back on the grass,” Penney explained.
“He’s in a programme but there’s no set guidelines on when he’ll be back to play. If it takes a month it takes a month, two months then two months. It’ll be what it’ll be.
“He’s making progress, which is great but there’s absolutely no deadline date for him to return. He’ll be back when he’s ready to go.”
Penney could be forced into some changes ahead of the weekend with Denis Hurley almost certain to miss out through illness.
“Denis Hurley has a very bad throat so it’s unlikely he’ll be around,” Penney is quoted as saying in the Irish Mirror. “We’ve skilful guys who can play a multitude of positions and sometimes you experiment a little just to see which is the right one for them given the style you want to play.”
Should Hurley but ruled out, Ian Keatley is likely to move to full-back with Ronan O’Gara starting at out-half.
“Ian has been tremendous for us and I’m sure there’s other people in the country who’ll be keen to see Ian in other positions to judge his versatility,” he added.
“And he’s a goal kicker as well. He’s the right option if Denis doesn’t come right.”by: Michelle, September 19, 2012