BRIAN O’DRISCOLL has a “50-50” chance of playing for Leinster against Saracens at Wembley on Saturday, according to the province’s skills coach Richie Murphy.
O’Driscoll was helped off the field with a hamstring problem against Racing Metro last Saturday at the RDS, the only dark moment on a bright afternoon as Leinster got their Heineken Cup game off to an otherwise ideal start with a 38-22 victory.
The pool two action continues tomorrow with a glamour tie at London’s famous stadium and despite the initial concerns surrounding O’Driscoll’s injury, the Ireland star was placed back into the frame for selection yesterday.
“He’s recovering really well,” skills and kicking coach Murphy said. “He’s been doing rehab all week and he’s probably 50-50 whether he’ll make the weekend.
“When Brian came off he alluded that it wasn’t as bad as before. The scans over the weekend have shown that that is the case and there is a chance that he will be there on Saturday.”
Leinster captain Leo Cullen played down the potential loss of O’Driscoll, whom coach Murphy stressed would not be risked if there was any doubt about the Ireland centre’s fitness.
Cullen, set for a place on the bench for his first outing of the season after recovering from a shoulder problem, said: “I don’t think it’s quite as bad as he first feared maybe, but you lose a player of his quality and it’s always going to have an effect.
“I think we’re pretty fortunate that we’ve got some pretty good guys that could potentially fill in for him when he’s not playing.”
Murphy added: “I don’t think it’s that disruptive at all. We’re lucky in this situation to have other players coming up behind him at a high level and able to slot in.
“He didn’t train on the pitch with us today but was there and people were obviously slotting into his position, depending on which way we want to go.
“From our point of view and for Irish rugby, if there was a doubt over him, or if he had doubts himself, he won’t be used.
“Brian’s experienced enough now to know when he can give what he can for the team. When he feels the situation isn’t right I’m sure he’ll know that himself.”
While O’Driscoll remains a doubt, fly-half Johnny Sexton has continued his comeback from a quad injury sufficiently to possibly return to kicking duties this weekend, Murphy said.
Isa Nacewa has been kicking in Sexton’s absence and while the Irish number 10 returned to action off the bench in the Magners League against Munster on October 2, then started in the 38-22 Heineken Cup win over Racing Metro last Saturday. The Fijian continued to take place kicks.
“His injury is really good, it’s cleared up. Johnny’s resumed full kicking practice on Wednesday and that was the first time he’s done a full kicking session so it would look like he would be right for the weekend and a final decision will be made on that (today).”
Cullen, meanwhile, is looking forward to Leinster’s day out at Wembley.
“It’s a big thrill for a lot of our players and it’s really exciting to go to new stadiums.
“We talked about going to the Aviva for the first time and making an occasion of it, as much for our supporters as anybody, and it’s going to be similar this weekend. We’ll have plenty of support there ourselves, we hope, and it’s a really exciting time for the players to be able to play in stadiums like this and it brings out the best in us hopefully.”
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