Ireland call-ups won’t affect Leinster pick for Ospreys clash

Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey confirmed yesterday that the province wouldn’t be losing any players to international duty for this Friday’s Guinness Pro12 encounter against the Ospreys in the Liberty Stadium.

A large Leinster contingent was present in Carton House for an Ireland training camp, but even though this caused a disruption to their review of last Friday evening’s victory over Connacht, Dempsey revealed that they would return to Leinster HQ tomorrow.

“We’re not going to miss Ireland players for Friday, but it does slightly disrupt the review of the Connacht week with those guys out. It just condenses the week. We have to try and make sure that we up-skill them pretty quickly when they come back in on Wednesday, because Tuesday is a day off,” Dempsey remarked in UCD yesterday.

“They are back in on Wednesday for a full day leading to a captain’s run on Thursday and then the match on Friday. It’s trying to condense the week. It is a challenge, but it’s good to have.”

Much of the build-up to the Connacht game was dominated by Cian Healy’s disciplinary hearing, and following an incident with international prop (and former Leinster team-mate) Nathan White on Friday, Leinster winger Fergus McFadden has been cited by for alleged foul play.

Dempsey acknowledged that this was also disruptive in the lead up to their 11th league tie of 2015/16, but having viewed limited footage of the incident, he felt it would be wise to await the findings of the citing commissioner before commenting on it in greater detail.

“Fergus has an exemplary disciplinary record in the past and you look at that. I have only seen one bit of footage and that’s the tv footage, the TG4 footage. From that angle it’s hard. The citing commissioner will have more angles,” Dempsey added.

With Cian Healy already ruled out through suspension on Friday night, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen will be hoping that McFadden is cleared of any wrongdoing. However, in the absence of Healy, Birr native Peter Dooley was handed a place in the Leinster match-day squad — and subsequently took Jack McGrath’s place at loosehead prop for the final 11 minutes of the action.

The 21-year-old had played in the No 8 position at underage level, but courtesy of some sound advice from ex-Leinster star Reggie Corrigan, and former Ireland coach Gerry Murphy, he made the transition to the front row.

“I played there [No 8] for the U18 Clubs, mixing between the both. I wasn’t growing height-wise for the back row. I didn’t have the fitness or the quickness by that time. Gerry Murphy and Reggie Corrigan suggested I make a trip into the front row,” Dooley says.

The move has certainly paid dividends for Dooley, who has made seven appearances from the replacements bench this season. Because there is an onus on back-row players to showcase their ball-carrying capabilities, he is more at ease in his current position — where the scrum tends to take priority over most aspects of play.

“I suppose there is a lot of pressure on you at eight with ball-carrying and all that. In the front row, if you have a good set-piece, you’re going to go a long way. It makes a big difference. Everything else around the park is an added bonus.

“It takes the pressure off in some ways. Then, you have the pressure of the scrum. If you don’t perform in the scrum, you’re going to be shipped out. That’s why I think I prefer it,” Dooley explained.

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