LEINSTER could welcome back Brian O’Driscoll and Luke Fitzgerald for Saturday’s interprovincial Magners League clash with Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway.
O’Driscoll missed last Saturday’s Heineken Cup away win over Saracens at Wembley after suffering a hamstring strain the previous week against Racing Metro while Fitzgerald sustained a bang on his hip during the 25-23 victory in London and was replaced after 47 minutes.
Both backs were not ruled out of participating this weekend after an x-ray on Monday afternoon revealed Fitzgerald had suffered bruising and could be fit to resume training tomorrow while O’Driscoll’s condition has continued to improve.
There was also good news for Leinster after club captain and lock Leo Cullen successfully came through his first appearance since May as a second-half replacement at Wembley while man of the match Jonathan Sexton, who scored all 25 points against Saracens, also came through the weekend with no reaction to his quad injury after a successful return to kicking duties.
Knee injury victim Ed O’Donoghue, however, will not feature in the team set to be announced on Friday but has made good progress in his rehabilitation.
Leinster prop Cian Healy, named yesterday in Declan Kidney’s 34-man Ireland squad for next month’s internationals, insisted his focus remained singularly on the challenge posed by a Connacht side boosted by a weekend European Challenge Cup win over French side Bayonne.
“I haven’t really thought about (Ireland’s games) because there are a couple of big games coming up and these two ahead of us are important in the context of the Magners League,” Healy said. “I’m obviously happy about the selection, but we want to get ourselves back on winning (away) form in the Magners League, so that’s our main focus now.”
Leinster have confidence in abundance also following their away victory over Saracens that continued a winning start to the Heineken Cup campaign.
“I thought we could have won bigger, but we were delighted to get the win and hopefully it’s onwards and upwards with that and we can get steadier form on the road and get our winning pattern together.
“Confidence in the squad is good but there are a few small parts that we need to nail down this week. A few basics have been letting us down, but we’ll work harder on them and hopefully try to build on last weekend.”
Ulster, meanwhile, will go into Friday’s Magners League visit to Edinburgh boosted by the commitment shown by centre Darren Cave, back -row forward Robbie Diack and prop Declan Fitzpatrick after all three agreed new contracts with the club.
Cave will remain at Ravenhill until at least June 2013, with Diack and Fitzpatrick signed up until June 2014.
South African Diack will become eligible to play for Ireland next July having been resident in the country for the necessary three-year period.
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