Sunday 4 December 2016

Sexton return cheers Cheika after Galway clash is given cold shoulder

Published 04/01/2010 | 05:00

Leinster are hopeful that Jonathan Sexton will be fit enough to feature in this Friday's RDS clash against surprise Magners League leaders Glasgow Warriors.

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The Irish out-half is expected to be given the all-clear following a final scan on the hand broken against South Africa in November.

CJ van der Linde also has an outside chance of playing but coach Michael Cheika will face trickier decisions regarding other front-line players, some of whom were rested for Saturday's postponed tie in Galway against Connacht.

"We have prepared for this cycle of matches in terms of preparation and rotation of players so that's why Saturday's postponement was a big disappointment for us," said Cheika.

Players such as Mike Ross, Girvan Dempsey, Bernard Jackman, Fergus McFadden, Trevor Hogan and Stephen Keogh were due to be given rare starts against Connacht but Cheika may be forced into a rethink ahead of their final two Heineken Cup matches at home to Brive and away to London Irish.

"Right now we're just going to concentrate on getting our own match up and running next Friday night," said Cheika. "But it was disappointing because we were really fired up for this one because we were conscious of the fact we lost here last year."

Cheika had joked to colleagues that tough Melbourne types would still play cricket on the rock hard surface but once referee Peter Fitzgibbon had conducted a second pitch inspection a la Geoff Boycott -- ie vainly attempting to stick his car key in the turf -- the official was left with little choice.

A date during a Six Nations gap week now seems most probable; possibly debilitating Leinster slightly more. Connacht coach Michael Bradley also rued the missed chance to build momentum ahead of their pivotal Challenge Cup pool decider in a fortnight.

"This was probably the strongest Leinster side to come to Galway in my seven years in charge here so from that point of view it's very disappointing," said Bradley. Like Leinster, they now face a race to ensure Friday's league clash with Dragons goes ahead.

"We were hoping to build a rush of momentum ahead of that Dragons game and of course the pool decider with Montpellier."

Irish Independent

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