Rassie Erasmus admits that Conor Murray’s return to full fitness has been slower than Munster had hoped, and will not feature against Connacht this weekend unless he is fully match fit.
The scrum-half has not played since sustaining nerve damage to his shoulder and neck in the Six Nations defeat to Wales in March, and has missed Munster’s six matches in that period.
Murray suffered an injury setback in the same area against Glasgow Warriors in January and Lions head coach Warren Gatland has insisted that the Limerick man needs to prove his fitness before getting on the plane for the tour of New Zealand, while a Guinness Pro12 semi-final will be of more immediate concern to the 28-year-old.
Erasmus says a decision will be taken later in the week regarding Saturday’s home clash with Connacht (KO 5.15pm).
The South African added that Murray's long-term fitness is the primary concern, adding that while the Lions tour is a huge accolade on a personal level, you "can’t be stupid" during rehabilitation.
"After this Lions series, his rugby career is not over. He's got another few years to go, so we won't rush him back," he said.
Erasmus also admitted that the scrum-half's recovery has taken longer than had been expected.
"Every week he contributes more in training sessions. He has been ticking all the boxes - much slower than we hoped, but he is ticking the boxes," he said.
Munster gear up for Saturday’s clash with further injury woes following the comfortable 34-14 win away to Treviso.
The Munster medical team have confirmed that winger Ronan O’Mahony fractured his fibula, while back row Dave O’Callaghan is awaiting scan results for a knee injury.
It has also been confirmed that Robin Copeland dislocated his shoulder when playing for Munster A in the British & Irish Cup Final and will undergo surgery this week.