The 33-year-old tighthead prop’s belated emergence with Ireland was crucial given John Hayes was winding down at much the same time as he left Harlequins for Dublin. And with injury, inexperience, unfamiliarity or lack of game time still holding Declan Fitzpatrick, Michael Bent, Ronan Loughney and Stephen Archer back, his importance has lessened none.
“We’re having a chat,” said Ross, who last put pen to paper back in March of last year.
“Contracts are contracts. I’m happy where I am. It’s not something I like to talk about too much. I like to keep that sort of stuff private but we are chatting with the union and I think we are going down the right track.”
Like Hayes in his day, Ross has rarely had to ring in sick because of injury but he was left struggling on Sunday in Clermont after colliding with the knees of former team-mate Nathan Hines during an uber physical encounter on a strength-sapping surface.
He was still feeling the effects yesterday.
“I just coughed up the rib that Hinesy shoved loose this morning,” he joked.
A six-day turnaround is not exactly ideal after a slugfest like the one that unfolded in the Stade Marcel Michelin but Leinster have emerged in decent shape, physically, with no new injuries to report ahead of Saturday’s repeat at Lansdowne Road.
Kevin McLaughlin sat out training after a late clash of heads with Shane Jennings three days ago and will be monitored this week but Heinke van der Merwe was back in harness after being held back last week due to a shoulder issue that developed whilst on November duty with South Africa.
Eoin O’Malley and Dave Kearney were also in attendance for the run out at UCD but the two young backs will most likely be kept for Sunday’s B&I Cup game against Jersey given the former has yet to feature this season and the latter has now sat out the bones of a month.
It is likely to be a similar story of wait-and-see with Clermont’s centre-wing Julien Malzieu who returned to the paddock yesterday for the first time since suffering a calf injury in last year’s semi-final defeat to Leinster in Bordeaux. Jamie Cudmore, Brock James and Aurelien Rougerie, all of whom played major roles last weekend, sat out that session as a precaution.
There is no indication that any of that trio will not be right come Saturday’s afternoon kick-off in the RDS but if any club can soak up personnel losses and carry on regardless it is the French side that packs the financial muscle of the local Michelin corporation.
That said, a weakened Leinster returned to Dublin devastated at their inability to end the French club’s 50-game unbeaten home run and the performance of the province’s scrum in the second period will be a particular encouragement ahead of what is effectively a win-or-bust return.
“We have worked hard on the scrum this year but we are not going to start thinking we have made it,” said Ross. “I just know from experience that each match is different.
“They gave us the hurry-up a couple times down in Bordeaux last year. We managed to turn it around a bit last weekend but this weekend is going to be another game and I’m sure they’ll be working hard on it.”