Leinster sweating over Bok star Van Der Linde

CJ VAN DER LINDE remains Leinster’s chief injury concern ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Harlequins in London.

Described as having an “outside” chance of playing by a spokesman yesterday, the South African prop is struggling with a recurring toe injury which has severely curtailed his input in his first season with the province.

The former Springbok featured off the bench in the 32-6 win over Ulster at the RDS two weekends ago but he lasted just a matter of minutes before being replaced and taken to hospital for a precautionary scan.

He failed to feature at all last weekend in Limerick and coach Michael Cheika is also hoping for good news on key backs Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald as well as first-choice hooker Bernard Jackman.

O’Driscoll and Fitzgerald were rested for last week’s trip to Thomond Park because of injuries carried over from Ireland’s Grand Slam victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium 18 days ago.

The Irish captain was sidelined due to a neck injury and wear and tear brought on by his heroic displays in the Six Nations while Fitzgerald picked up a shoulder injury in the latter stages of the game against Wales.

The importance of O’Driscoll can hardly be overstated and, with Leinster’s season effectively on the line at The Stoop, it will take an injury of serious import to make the Six Nations player of the tournament sit this one out.

The same can be said for Fitzgerald who, with the Magners League title now Munster’s to lose, would have three weeks between the Harlequins tie and a potential semi-final with which to recuperate again should that be required.

Jackman picked up a knee injury during Saturday’s defeat in Limerick but the line regarding the quartet from within the camp is “hopeful” and Cheika is expected to make a more definitive judgement today at the team’s pre-match press conference.

Leinster have coped admirably up front without van der Linde this season but the loss of Jackman would be a blow as his replacement John Fogarty has only featured in Europe four times in the Heineken Cup, each of which was from the bench this season.


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