O’Driscoll knee injury a big worry for Schmidt

Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt admitted that Brian O’Driscoll’s knee injury was a concern heading into Heineken Cup final week as assessed a battered dressing room following the 18-3 Magners League semi-final victory over Ulster last night.

Ireland captain and centre O’Driscoll’s right knee took a knock three minutes before half-time at the RDS, while hooker Richardt Strauss suffered a blow to his side in the second-half, tighthead prop Mike Ross suffered a “stinger” and was substituted after just 33 minutes, as was scrum-half Isaac Boss, withdrawn a minute earlier with a hamstring twinge.

English Premiership heavyweights Northampton Saints await Heineken Cup favourites Leinster at the Millennium Stadium next Saturday evening but Schmidt will not learn his stricken players’ availability for the final build-up until tomorrow evening at the earliest.

“There are four guys who came off the field today who we are going to have to wait on,” Schmidt said after the game. “We’ve got some scans happening tomorrow and medicals on Sunday at midday, so we’ll get a clearer picture after that.

“Brian O’Driscoll came off, his knee was uncomfortable but it was functional. We’re going to have to look at that. Richardt Strauss got a bit of a bump, but his is just bruising so I’m pretty sure he’ll be okay.

“After a game, it’s very hard (to assess). There’s a bit of swelling and a bit of unknown. Clinically you can’t test them because with the swelling joints they become a little bit immobile, and with bruising things are tender to touch.

“Hopefully by Monday we’ll have a bit more clarity because going into Northampton what you want is a really positive training week with guys on their feet and able to train.”

Schmidt said he had been happy with the physicality of the challenge thrown down by Ulster last night in terms of a final tune-up before the Northampton game, although it had been a dangerous line to balance on.

“It’s one of those unfortunate things: we wanted to get a good hit out today, we just didn’t want to get beaten up. But it was a bit of a demolition derby. I know it was a derby game but there were bodies littered at times across the field.

“We didn’t expect anything less of Ulster and I know they would have been very disappointed if we didn’t throw ourselves at them. It was a really, good competitive match.”

Picture: Winger Luke Fitzgerald celebrates after scoring a try for Leinster last night. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne


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