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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

Keith Earls may have played his last game for Munster following latest injury setback

Keith Earls may have played his last game for Munster after suffering a groin injury in training.

Ireland star Earls, 35, could yet sign a new deal with the Reds that would take him into a 17th season with his native province.

Munster travel to face Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun on Saturday night but even if Munster make it to the final on May 27 then it is expected the Limerick flyer will not be ready to return.

READ MORE: Ireland and Leinster's Johnny Sexton sets the date for his return to training after groin operation

He recently made his 200th appearance for the province and has scored 64 tries.

Currently on 98 Ireland caps, Earls hopes to make it to a fourth Rugby World Cup in the autumn but, like fellow veteran Johnny Sexton, his time could be up at provincial level with injury ending his hopes of finishing off in style.

The versatile backline performer has been ravaged by injury this season.

But, after making just five appearances throughout the campaign, he made a comeback in time for Munster's crucial recent URC fixtures in South Africa and played an important role off the bench as Graham Rowntree's charges secured Champions Cup qualification for next season.

"It’s not great," admitted the Reds' defence coach Denis Leamy.

"He’s got a Grade 3 (injury), I don’t want to give you the wrong information – groin, adductor, I’m not sure but he’s got a Grade 3 anyway which would probably mean that he’d be out for a number of weeks. That would be our understanding.

“It’s hugely frustrating because he’s come back and he was brilliant on tour in South Africa, two really strong showings off the bench as well and then unfortunately he’s done that injury.

“Such a pity but look, Keith’s with us until the end of the World Cup, so who knows? We’ll have to revisit and have a discussion around that but he’s still very much in our plans.

“I suppose at some stage we’ll have to sit down with Keith and see what he wants to do.”

Rowntree and his coaches will have to decide which two out-halves to go with for the Glasgow clash, with Jack Crowley and Ben Healy getting the nod over former first choice Joey Carbery in recent games.

Healy is on the move to Glasgow at the end of this season but has been in superb form for the Reds.

"Wig (Rowntree) has been phenomenally good around his selection policies," said Leamy. "The best player, the in-form player (gets picked).

"Our training is analysed so hard, we’ve got GPS, video analysis, we’re doing everything that we can just to get the data and make the right choices around that.

“It’s the best man for the job, it is - and I think he’s been very consistent and we’ve been consistent around our selection policies.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to have three guys who are international standard and it’s going to be really difficult but amazing to have the three boys.

"All three bring quality, all three have the ability to create, to run a game, and some of the form of the lads over the last couple of weeks has been exciting and really positive as well.

"Look, Joey’s been excellent. He contributes to the group, he’s such a smart rugby brain and Joey understands he’s very much in the frame as well.

"This game changes very quickly. An awful lot can change in terms of what can happen. And that goes for Jack and for Ben.

“So all guys have to be live, all guys have to do their preparation and we’ll see when the time comes who the best men for the job are on that day."

Asked if Healy's recent run of form is down to having his future settled, Leamy replied: “I don’t know, you’d have to ask Ben. He’s been very good off the bench the last couple of days and the thing is he’s very much a Munster player.

"He’s a Tipperary boy, born and bred, he’s with us until July and he’s all in.

“I know from talking to him on a daily basis, he’s all in, hugely invested and he’s a Munster man, a Munster player and there’s no reason why we wouldn’t select him and some of the things he’s been doing of late have been really, really good.”


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