MUNSTER ARE facing a selection dilemma before Sunday's Heineken Champions Cup opener against Wasps. Some of the players that returned back to Ireland from South Africa have now tested positive for Covid-19. However the head coach has said that some of the isolating players could feature.
Munster have called up Sunday's trip to Coventry 22 young players under the age of 21 to help with squad numbers due to the loss of so many players and staff.
Van Graan is also in home-isolation, which ends Saturday before the Wasps tie on Sunday.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 7, 2021
Despite having not trained in two weeks the Munster head coach says some of those players on the South African trip could feature for the province.
"There will potentially be certain players available," he confirmed.
"We've got to announce a team on Friday afternoon, we've still got to go and get through training after that, so anything is possible at this stage.
"All I will say is that Public Health has been excellent in assisting us. There's a full PCR testing programme going on.
"But the main message from myself and all the coaches this week is that the whole focus is on the players in the HPC. If we need any assistance in terms of selection, we will give that but you have to also look at the bigger picture here.
"Guys have been sitting in their hotel rooms for almost two weeks, at home. Some players are sick, others aren't. It hasn't been ideal but we are putting all our effort into the players at the HPC. If we can and need to, we will assist from the outside."
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony:
"I think I trained with a guy who was born in 2004 the other day.
"Earlsie could have been his father, we reckoned!" pic.twitter.com/CComfXJ9qA
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) December 8, 2021
Academy manager Ian Costello has been taking the on-field sessions at Munster's High Performance Center in Limerick, this week
Costello spent the previous three seasons as an assistant at this week's opponents Wasps and returned to Munster this summer.
He says he's working constantly with the senior coaches, who are in touch remotely despite being the point of contact at the ground
"I'm definitely not the boss we've got, everyone is in this together," Costello said.
"Johann, and all the coaches in the background, is very coordinated and aligned, and it just feels like there's huge support.
"What I’ve really enjoyed in the last few months is how close an organisation it is. That was part of the reason to come home to something that’s special. It’s times like these that really shine through.
"I just think how tight everyone is in the HPC at the moment, how connected everyone is to the three different groups is incredible. It’s hard to put it into words, and I hope it comes out in the performance on Sunday."
— Independent Sport (@IndoSport) December 8, 2021
Short-term loans have been ruled out by Van Graan as Munster will look to use their academy and talent squad options.
Many of those faces in training have been new even to captain Peter O'Mahony, who is encouraging the new players to embrace their time with the seasoned professionals.
"We're hugely proud of our academy and our NTS squad," O'Mahony said.
"We produce a lot of players who play for Munster who grow up in the province and I knew having come through that system that we could fall back there and I've seen in the last two weeks what the guys have come in and done.
"In the session that I've just got off from now, young guys were running Wasps plays for us and they were incredible, it was a credit to them, to be fair to them.
"So it never crossed my mind, to be honest with you, that we wouldn't be able to fulfill it."