O'Driscoll, D'Arcy in Euro boost for Leinster
HOPES are growing that Leinster pair Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy will be fit for the province's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Clermont Auvergne on April 9.
In the immediate aftermath of Saturday's defeat to Scotland, it was feared the duo would miss the showdown with the current employers of Josef Schmidt, who takes over in Donnybrook next season.
But the news that the province's first-choice centre partnership are likely to be fit comes as a massive boost as another midfield option, Luke Fitzgerald, also faces a race against time to be fit for the clash with the Top 14 side.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika will name his squad for Saturday's Magners League showdown with Connacht in the RDS today, but the Australian is not expected to include any of Declan Kidney's front-line players.
The western province have injury problems of their own as skipper John Muldoon has been given a 50-50 chance to play while centre Niva Ta'auso and flanker Ray Ofisa are rated as very doubtful for the encounter with the Heineken Cup champions.
Connacht coach Michael Bradley said that with the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final coming up against Bourgoin in just over two weeks' time, he is not going to risk players this weekend.
"We play Leinster this weekend and Edinburgh the following weekend and those games will influence our selection for the Bourgoin game.
"But we don't want to risk players and even if Niva and Ray are passed fit to play this weekend, we might not risk them. John Muldoon has a groin problem and is at best 50-50 to be ready for the game," said Bradley.
Also on Friday night, Munster face Glasgow in Thomond Park where they will look to extend their 16-game winning streak in all competitions to maintain the pressure on Magners League leaders Leinster.
Cardiff Blues No 8 Xavier Rush will make his 100th appearance for the Welsh region against Ulster on Friday night, the side he joins for the start of next season.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the postponed Ulster v Ospreys match which was due to take place last Friday will now be played on Tuesday April 13 at Ravenhill with a 7.30 kick-off.