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Senior Munster stars show public support for team-mate who served steroid doping ban

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Adam Ellis

Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray have echoed coach Johann van Graan by saying Munster team-mate Gerbrandt Grobler should be free to play after serving a doping ban for anabolic steroid abuse in 2016.

Irish rugby has been in hot debate for over a week since the lock featured for Munster A in a British & Irish Cup tie against Nottingham last Friday, as he nears contention for a debut starting spot in Munster’s senior side having been injured in pre-season.

Signed by van Graan’s predecessor Rassie Erasmus, Munster’s incumbent head coach stated that while doping was wrong his job was to take care of all of the club’s players.

“I can understand it,” van Graan said of the outcry currently clouding the club and the IRFU. “Doping is wrong. You can never say anything good about it. In Gerbrandt Grobler’s case, he had a two-year ban from World Rugby. He serves his ban, went to another club, Munster signed him.

Speaking of their team-mate, British & Irish Lions duo O’Mahony and Murray noted that the World Anti-Doping Agency has passed down its judgment and Grobler was therefore free to play.

“GG, he’s done his time. He’s done his two years from Wada,” said Munster captain O’Mahony.

“As for as me and the other players are concerned, he’s been great for us and we’ll certainly stand by him.”

Grobler tested positive for the banned substance Drostanolone back in 2014 and was handed a two-year ban from playing rugby. When the 25-year-old’s ban ended in 2016 he was signed by then reigning Top 14 champions Racing 92, a club who gave the lock a glowing commendation when Munster weighed up his signature last summer.

O’Mahony added: “As far as I’m concerned, Munster signed him, he’d played 20 games or whatever for Racing then we signed him obviously on good terms, good references that we got, as we do for all our signings and he’s come here, he’s struggled with injury and he’s been a great guy to have around the place.

Scrum-half Murray followed both O’Mahony and van Graan in condemning doping, but said that the South African had their support after admitting he had done wrong.

Murray said: “He completely accepts what he did; it was wrong, we don’t support it. But does that mean he can’t play rugby again? I think that’s crazy. He’s here now and he’s bought into what we’re trying to do here.

The questioning of the IRFU’s ethics in sanctioning the move are set to hit their peak when the governing body’s chief executive, Philip Browne, talks to the media on Wednesday.

At the coming weekend, Munster A face the Ospreys in the B&I Cup while the senior side welcome Castres to Thomond Park in the concluding round of the Champions Cup pool stage.

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