Blues hopeful O'Driscoll will be back fit and firing for Euro opener
LEINSTER are hopeful Brian O'Driscoll and Richardt Strauss will be available for their opening Heineken Cup game against Ospreys at Rodney Parade next weekend.
O'Driscoll has been ruled out of tonight's derby clash with Munster in Thomond Park with "a slight calf strain", while the reason for Strauss' absence is unknown. It has been suggested he is being held in reserve after suffering "a knock" in recent weeks.
The reigning Pro12 champions will definitely be without back-row Jordi Murphy for their trip to Wales after the 22-year-old underwent surgery on his ankle during the week. Leinster's young player of the year last season has been outstanding this term but will miss the next few weeks.
His loss is tempered by the availability of Jamie Heaslip. Heaslip made a successful return to Leinster's colours in last weekend's win over Cardiff Blues and captains the side again today in what will be his 168th appearance for the province.
Former Australia international Lote Tuqiri will partner Gordon D'Arcy in the centre, while Sean O'Brien makes his first start of the season at openside flanker. Luke Fitzgerald is on the bench.
Leinster are bidding to win away against Munster for the third successive time, a feat they last achieved in 1971. Munster's last win against their greatest rivals came in the 2011 final at the same venue.
Surprisingly, tonight's game is not a sell-out – tickets will be on sale at Thomond Park. Munster have named Conor Murray and BJ Botha on the bench. Tighthead prop Botha hasn't played since injuring knee ligaments in pre-season.
Murray's return to action was delayed after he picked up a toe injury during Ireland's training camp at the start of last week.
They are both expected to see at least 30 minutes in preparation for next weekend's opening Heineken Cup game away to Edinburgh.