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Murray implores IRFU chiefs to do all they can to hold onto O'Mahony

By David Kelly

Conor Murray has pleaded with the IRFU to sort out Peter O'Mahony's future - with the Munster captain issuing a four-week deadline for the saga to be resolved.

O'Mahony was reluctant to expand on the details of his negotiations with the IRFU yesterday but did admit his frustration at details being leaked to the media - although he wasn't sure from which side of the table the information derived.

"It's professional sport," he said, after declaring he wanted the issue sorted within the next four weeks. If not, he could well be bound for England or France.

"It's a short career. It's well documented I've had a couple of offers. It's at a critical juncture. Hopefully it will be done by the New Year regardless."

After losing Donnacha Ryan already this year and with Simon Zebo set to follow him to France, Murray says that Munster cannot afford to lose another leading light.

"Pete's our leader, he's a massive leader, he's captained Ireland, he is part of the furniture," said Murray, who also hopes CJ Stander can be persuaded to stay when his contract talks commence.

"It's more of a reality now that people can leave. I hope the IRFU do absolutely everything to keep Peter because he is integral to our plans here and with Ireland. We can't afford to lose another one. We all understand that if it gets drawn out or takes a while, it is because you need to find your value, it is a short career, that is the way things go.

"They are part of this culture, what we have been building here and what we want to achieve and they are leaders and they drive it."

Meanwhile, brighter news for Munster ahead of their Champions Cup double-header, on the field at least, even though it involves one of the players who won't be with them next season.

After Zebo took a hefty crack on the ribs against Ospreys on Saturday, he trooped off at half-time with the pallor of a man who wouldn't be launching himself into action any time soon.

Yet he bounded back into the fray as Munster launched their week of training at UL HQ yesterday.

"All smiles," beamed new coach Johann van Graan. That at least counters the devastation wrought upon the side's midfield, not to mention the sad sight of promising prop Liam O'Connor pitching up at rehab on crutches a couple of hours earlier.

The academy player's knee injury will be further assessed today but the portents are not promising.

"It doesn't look good at this stage," was Van Graan's assessment. "We will know more pretty soon. But it looks like a long-term injury."

With James Cronin also in the infirmary, pressure will heap upon Dave Kilcoyne and, perhaps a certain David Nucifora who, as if he hasn't enough to be getting on with, may have to help Munster get a short-term signing to ease some pain.

"I wouldn't want to speculate at this stage," added van Graan.

"There are structures in place to get possible additions. We are in constant communication with the IRFU. If the need really arises we will have a look."

That may be too late so behind the scenes scrambling may already be taking place.

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