Tough decisions for van Graan on Zebo and Earls for Munster's trip to France

Tough decisions for van Graan on Zebo and Earls for Munster's trip to France
Simon Zebo at training on Tuesday. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

MUNSTER head coach Johann van Graan will have a huge call to make today ahead of naming his match-day squad for Sunday’s European Champions Cup semi-final.

He will have to decide whether to leave mercurial full-back Simon Zebo on the bench due to an ongoing hamstring problem which has seen him play limited game time in recent weeks and whether to bring Keith Earls in, having played no rugby since March 17.

Zebo has not played a full 80 minutes since February 23 having strained a hamstring against Edinburgh on March 16.

Even his most recent games have been hampered by injury with the Corkman taking a knock in the quarter-final against Toulon which saw Andrew Conway coming in as his replacement and in Zebo’s return to action in South Africa last Friday he was called ashore by van Graan after 48 minutes.

The expected return of Earls following a knee injury may allow the Munster management some room for manoeuvre with Andrew Conway the leading candidate to start at full-back.

That would leave a vacancy on the right wing with Alex Wootton or Darren Sweetnam both on form at the moment.

Earls’s return has excited Conway who said: “Earlsie is obviously world class. He’s played the best rugby I’ve ever seen him play — from watching him as a fan of him when I was a bit younger to playing with him over the last few years — whenever he’s been fit over the last 12 months he’s on a different planet. It’s incredible to watch.

“Saying that there have been some pretty good performances from Alex [Wootton], Sweets [Darren Sweetnam] and Calvin Nash.

“Earlsie brings experience, he brings the ability that he has – which is different to everyone else – but there are other guys there that have played extremely well in big games this season, so I wouldn’t be too worried.”

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