Tuesday 26 September 2017

O'Driscoll, Fitzgerald battling to feature in Connacht clash

Hugh Farrelly

LUKE FITZGERALD is expected to return to Leinster training tomorrow and he and Brian O'Driscoll are said to be still in the frame to feature in Saturday's Magners League clash against Connacht.

Fitzgerald was left out of yesterday's 34-man Ireland squad to allow him to be assessed by his province after injuring his hip in last weekend's Heineken Cup victory over Saracens, while O'Driscoll is making progress with the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the Wembley fixture.

With the Ireland squad in training next week, it would be preferable if O'Driscoll was able to take some part in the Connacht clash to gain match time ahead of the November 6 Test against South Africa. However, while Leinster are hopeful that both players will be able to play at the Sportsground, they are unlikely to be risked if there are injury concerns with the internationals in mind.

Like Fitzgerald, Leinster captain Leo Cullen was left out of the Ireland squad to facilitate his return to full fitness after his shoulder injury problems and, after getting through his first taste of action in six months against Saracens, an extended run-out against Connacht could put him in the frame for the South Africa Test. Cullen's fellow second-row Ed O'Donoghue continues to rehabilitate from his knee injury, but is unlikely to be available to face Connacht.

Loose-head prop Cian Healy was delighted to make the national squad and said the last three weeks which have brought successive victories over Munster, Racing Metro and Saracens have been gruelling, but extremely satisfying.

"It has been tough with high emotion and high-pressure games," said Healy. "It's hard work on the body, but the recovery has been done. I think everybody's going to be in good shape coming into the Sportsground. I was feeling a little bit tired myself, but we got a good rest after the weekend so the body's feeling alright at this stage.

"The Leinster game is one of their (Connacht's) targets, a good opportunity to get one over us, but a few of the Leinster boys will be going out there with a real point to prove.

"We have had three big games lately and this is one where we can easily let the foot off the gas if we don't come out with all guns firing.

"There's an extra edge, personally speaking, when you know the players from the Ireland camps and, although you never really say it, it's good to get one over them, even though you obviously still stay friends."

  • Saracens have confirmed that they have been in contact with Gavin Henson and that signing the Welsh international is one of the options they are considering as they face a potential crisis at fly-half. Their difficulties were aggravated when Springbok Derick Hougaard ruptured his Achilles tendon on Saturday against Leinster.

Irish Independent

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