/ Rugby

Munster coach Rob Penney optimistic over Conor Murray fitness

Updated: Saturday, 04 Jan 2014 21:15 | Comments

Penney: 'There is a chance for Conor, there always was'
Penney: 'There is a chance for Conor, there always was'

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Munster coach Rob Penney is hopeful that scrum-half Conor Murray could be fit for next Saturday’s crunch Heineken Cup clash at Gloucester.

The news is a welcome fitness boost for the Reds after Donncha O'Callaghan, Cathal Sheridan and Damien Varley were all forced off through injury in the first half of Friday night’s RaboDirectPro12 29-19 defeat to Ulster.

All three could now miss the vital Pool 6 game but Murray may feature after a month out with knee ligament damage sustained in the Thomond Park hammering of Perpignan.

"Donncha and Cathal both had knee strains, while Damien has a plantar fascia issue with the sole of his foot," Penney said.

"There is a chance for Conor, there always was. Hopefully, the work that the medical team has been doing comes to fruition."

“You give them the time to do their work and hopefully they produce the athlete for you at the end of that process and we’re nearing that so hopefully we’ll have him back.”

Penney praised his side’s grit in recovering from 20-0 down before half-time to push Ulster all the way in Friday’s derby but bemoaned missed opportunities from the tee.

"I'm really disappointed, the lads did a great job," said Penney. "To work our way back to four points down, having not kicked many goals, and (missing) an opportunity to score another one (try) was disappointing, but I'm also really pleased with how the guys responded to the pressures.

"This team have a great deal of fortitude, they were up against an Ulster side who have a great deal of quality.

“We probably left 12 or 15 points out there through our kicking, but it was a great effort. (Ruan) Pienaar kicked everything, that was the difference."

Ulster boss Mark Anscombe was relieved that his side had held on and praised his forwards’ efforts in winning a crucial late scrum when Munster were camped on their line.

"Munster's forward pack is formidable, we got to 20-0 but we were a bit loose and allowed them a try at half-time, and they got their line-out maul down, which is hard to stop," he said.

"We stopped the last one which was most important and then had an outstanding scrum on our goal line and came away with the points, which was pleasing."

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