Some players may yet be released from the Ireland camp, but although he would welcome reinforcements, Blues coach Matt O’Connor has confidence in the group that have been training with the province in recent weeks.
“It’s a little bit difficult, but then again it’s an opportunity for the other guys in the group to get some competitive rugby, which is really positive,” O’Connor remarked in the Conrad Hotel yesterday.
“Those guys have been working very, very hard and doing a great job to get through to the semi-final of the B&I Cup. They’re very excited to get an opportunity to play with the senior team in the Pro12.”
In contrast, Wales’ Taulupe Faletau will be one of the few major absentees from the Dragons’ set-up, so O’Connor is wary of the visiting threat, despite Dragons’ underwhelming league form.
“They’re pretty stable. They’ll lose Faletau but the rest of their group is pretty consistent. They haven’t had fantastic results in the league so far, but they’ve had the opportunity to play over the last couple of weeks in the LV Cup to develop some combinations.”
One player that will be available to O’Connor this weekend is improving back-row Jack Conan. The 22-year-old featured for the Wolfhounds in their recent outing against England Saxons, but has now been allowed to resume his Leinster duties. Conan feels he has benefited greatly from his recent exposure to the international scene, despite not being entirely pleased with his own performance for the Wolfhounds.
“It was great to just be involved in that Wolfhounds game and the squad in general. After training with those lads day-in, day-out in camp it makes you realise that’s where you want to be and what you want to aspire to.”