Sexton good to go for showdown with Cardiff

Des Berry

Ireland out-half fit for Heineken Cup quarter-final clash

The dangerous talk around town is that only Jonathan Sexton's cramped-up-calf can cramp Leinster's style against Cardiff Blues as they head into their ninth Heineken Cup quarter-final in 11 seasons.

The reality is that Sexton is good to go for next Saturday, while potential reserve Eoin O'Malley (calf) is the only injury worry.

Coach Joe Schmidt will hammer home the 'look what happened against the Ospreys' message all week to a squad boosted by the return of Brian O'Driscoll. Significantly, this has had a positive effect on Gordon D'Arcy, who was back to his belligerent best against Munster on Saturday. It will be his unenviable task to control Jamie Roberts.

Tight-head Mike Ross does look a shade exhausted and beaten-up from his Six Nations exertions. He will have to hold up against the fierce Gethin Jenkins.

The back five department is loaded with players who can share the workload. Brad Thorn, Leo Cullen, Devin Toner and Damian Browne will compete for three places.

Surely, Cardiff will be dead in the water if they go with Connacht-bound Dan Parks to start at fly-half. He stands so far back in the pocket, he might as well sit in the stands.

There was conjecture in Wales that rookie coaches Justin Burnell and Gareth Baber might spring Gavin Henson from the bench in an imaginative move that could throw Leinster out of kilter.

Instead, Henson, typically, threw his toys out of the pram on Cardiff's flight back from Edinburgh on Saturday night to be banned from participation at the Aviva Stadium. He has been suspended by the club. This leaves the out-of-form Ceri Sweeney to carry the Blue flag at out-half. It is a gamble Burnell and Baber have to take.

The only way for Cardiff to dethrone the European champions is for Sweeney, a mercurial player at his best, to activate a backline that compares favourably with any left in the competition.

Prop Jenkins, second row Bradley Davies, the gnarled Martyn Williams and number eight Xavier Rush bring unrelenting intensity and game-changing credentials.