Munster boss Rassie Erasmus is bracing himself for being without centre Jaco Taute for months rather than weeks as he waits on the South African’s visit to a specialist on Monday, writes Simon Lewis.
Springbok Taute left the Thomond Park pitch on the back of a stretcher cart during the first half of Munster’s bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues on Saturday and was immediately ruled out of this weekend’s Guinness PRO14 derby clash with Leinster at the Aviva Stadium.
Taute has since undergone a scan on his injured knee and on Monday was set to see a specialist, leaving director of rugby Erasmus to fear the worst as he looked ahead to potentially season-defining games against league rivals Leinster and Champions Cup pool opponents Castres and Racing 92 n the next three weeks.
“Jaco’s not doing too great,” Erasmus said at the Champions Cup media launch for the PRO14 clubs in Dublin. “He got that knee, probably a ligament injury. He went for a scan yesterday and he’s seeing a specialist today but I’m not expecting good news there. He’s the type of guy, if he goes off like that, it won’t be weeks, it will probably be months.”
While Taute would be a big loss, Munster replenished its midfield playing stocks during the summer with the signing of Irishman Chris Farrell from Grenoble while fly-halves JJ Hanrahan and Tyler Bleyendaal were also name-checked as potential stop-gaps at centre and Sam Arnold came through an AIL game for Garryowen at the weekend as he continues to put an injury-ravaged first season behind him since signing from Ulster.
There was more positive news regarding second row Jean Kleyn, who missed the Cardiff win with a neck injury suffered in the previous weekend’s loss to Glasgow but was reported as progressing well alongside fellow lock and neck victim Sean O’Connor, while Ireland wing Keith Earls is in line for his first action of the season against arch rivals Leinster.
Also back in the selection mix for this weekend is back-rower Jack O’Donoghue, who has now completed his Head Injury Assessment return to play protocols following a concussion at Glasgow 10 days ago.