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Easterby backs O'Driscoll to decide when he is ready to play for Blues


BRIAN knows best. Leinster team manager Guy Easterby was not prepared to declare Brian O'Driscoll fit for selection against Connacht, claiming the centre is the definitive expert on his own body.

"Brian knows his body better than anyone. He is a so-called veteran athlete in terms of his age. He has got a fantastic feel for his own body. He is excellent at managing himself," Easterby said.

There are seeds of suspicion about the return-to-play date for O'Driscoll. He received a Grade-1 tear to his calf two weeks ago in an innocuous incident at training.

A Grade-1 tear carries an approximate recovery period of 7 – 10 days. It is now at 14 days and counting with no guarantee of seeing O'Driscoll in the PRO12 League on Saturday evening.

This would leave him drastically short of game time for the internationals against Samoa (November 9), Australia (November 16) and New Zealand (November 24).

"He certainly won't be putting himself under any risk. There will be no issue at all, in my opinion, for the Autumn games," offered Easterby.

"From Brian's point of view, you can see his enthusiasm for that All Blacks game. It would be huge for him to be involved.

"It's one of the things left that he hasn't achieved in the sport, beating them. He'll manage himself as well as possible. He obviously needs some rugby as well."

Ireland tight-head Mike Ross and Australian import Lote Tuqiri will be monitored "day-to-day" beside O'Driscoll in what is a wait-and-see approach.

"They all have a chance of playing. But, they all have a chance of not playing as well," Easterby said.

There is also good news. Zane Kirchner is very likely to make his Leinster debut anywhere from jerseys 13 to 15 at the RDS.

Hooker Richardt Strauss's operation to repair a hole in his heart was a success.

"They are confident that it went well and he will be back playing sometime in the future," Easterby said.

"They're not sure when. It's months rather than weeks. We're told he will almost definitely have no issue at all playing. You can never be 100 per cent but it would be 99.9 per cent."