The Leinster squad stepped up their preparations for Sunday’s Magners League clash against the Dragons in Rodney Parade (KO: 2.30pm) with a number of international players set to re-join the panel on Thursday having been given extra time off after their Six Nations exertions.
Amongst those set to be included in the panel for Sunday’s game in Newport are Leinster skipper Leo Cullen while Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton could also feature. Any decision on their availability will be made at Friday’s team announcement. Both Sexton and Devin Toner’s next appearances will be their 50thfor the province in the league.
Shane Jennings (ankle) and Shaun Berne (Achilles) remain doubtful due to injury.
Fergus McFadden could be in the frame, while Stan Wright continued his rehabilitation during the province’s ‘A’ interprovincial friendly game in Connacht last weekend. It is hoped, meanwhile, that Shane Horgan (knee) who has missed the last two months through injury will also be available for selection. Andrew Conway (ankle) is rated as doubtful for this weekend’s game.
With players such as Ian Madigan, Ian McKinley, Rhys Ruddock and Dominic Ryan all in the mix, the Leinster management expect to be able to call on a squad mixed with youth and experience for the first of two successive away ties in the Magners League before the Heineken Cup quarter final on April 9th.
Isa Nacewa’s 142 points to date in the Magners League puts him in joint third place in this year’s standing, while he joins Horgan and David Kearney as the province’s joint top try-scorers in the league with four to date.
Speaking ahead of Sunday afternoon’s trip to face the Dragons, Leinster back-row forward DOMINIC RYAN said that the team can be inspired from the return of the internationals…
“It has been a quiet week and we’ve had a bit of time off our feet, but we’ve been working very hard in terms of our fitness over the last few weeks.
“The Dragons are a very good team and though we actually beat them over here, they’re different at home and you saw it with Ireland at the weekend.
“I personally made my debut (for Leinster) against the Dragons last year and we were absolutely thumped over there in Rodney Parade, so it’s coming to the business end of the season now and we have to win every game in the Magners League.
“You can’t really afford to slip up, so it’s going to be a big game. In the past there might have been an impression that it was one of the easier games, but our approach is that it’s one of our toughest games.
“It was magical to watch the Ireland game at the weekend and seeing how they beat England and you do take inspiration from that, especially when you see an Irish team bringing that kind of physicality to a game.
“That Irish spirit, which people talk about, it’s always there and has to be drawn on so when we have the internationals back we’ll see the kind of strength that we have.
“At the moment with Jamie (Heaslip) and Seanie (O’Brien) out and Rhys (Ruddock) involved with the Ireland set-up as well, you have three quality internationals there. And with Kev (McLaughlin) and Jenno (Shane Jennings) as well, the competition is huge at the moment and you have to fight for your place.”