THE MUNSTER BACK row could be in for a timely boost as Waterford native Jack O’Donoghue nears a return from a long-term injury lay-off.

O’Donoghue suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in last season’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final defeat to Leinster at the RDS, but he has made a quicker than anticipated return to training.

The former Ireland U20 captain is not quite ready to make his comeback in tomorrow’s clash against Dragons in Wales, but according to Johann van Graan, is only a few weeks away from making a comeback. 

With CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony away on Ireland duty for the next seven weeks due to the Six Nations, and Tommy O’Donnell back on the treatment table due to a shoulder injury, the return of O’Donoghue would be a major fillip for the southern province.

“Look, he will be back soon if I can put it that way, a couple of weeks, I guess. Hopefully in the next block of games,” said van Graan.

“If you just think back to his ACL that happened at the end of May, it is literally only seven months now, so if you just look at the amount of time that guys take to get back, he is ahead of schedule, but I wouldn’t want to speculate on a specific date of return.”

The 24-year old has chalked up 93 appearances since his debut against Zebre in September 2014.

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He has been capped twice at senior level, making his debut against Canada at the Aviva Stadium in the 2016 November series and picked up a second cap away to Japan the following summer.

O’Donoghue became the first Waterford native in the professional era to skipper Munster when he led them out away to Cardiff last February and is now poised to finally make his return just as the province head into the business end of the season.

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