Leinster will make a decision on whether Sean O’Brien and Luke McGrath are ready and able to face Scarlets in this weekend’s Champions Cup semi-final within the next 24 hours or so, writes Brendan O’Brien.
The Carlow flanker may carry the greater reputation but O’Brien has been injured for all but 67 minutes of action since mid-December and the province has become accustomed to making do without his services, sterling though they may be when fit.
McGrath’s situation carries greater meaning.
An Irish international in his own right, McGrath is first-choice for his club but Leinster would be forced to rejig their resources should he fail to recover sufficiently from the ankle injury he suffered in the European quarter-final defeat of Saracens.
Should he miss out then head coach Leo Cullen would have no option but to start Kiwi Jamison Gibson-Park, one of three Antipodeans at the club, the problem being that they can only use two in any given matchday squad due to EU trade laws.
Scott Fardy, the Australian flanker-cum-lock is considered indispensable, whichever line he features in, so that would mean no place for the former New Zealand Maori wing James Lowe who is the club’s most dangerous strike runner by a considerable distance.
Decisions will be taken by the brains trust after training tomorrow with O’Brien and McGrath currently being “further assessed” according to the club. Conan is due to resume training at some point this week and Robbie Henshaw is good to go after his recent shoulder injury.
Henshaw’s availability – he took full part in training last Friday and was 24th man for the Guinness PRO14 loss to Benetton at the weekend – is a huge boost that will allow Cullen & Co. greater leeway in moving their many chess pieces across the back line.
Rhys Ruddock is also being assessed for a hamstring injury picked up against Saracens, although there is less talk of him being able to make this particular game, while hooker Richardt Strauss has been ruled out with a calf injury suffered against the Italians on Saturday.