Sunday 25 February 2018

D’Arcy fit for Scarlets clash as doubts remain over Kearney

Leinster's Gordon D'Arcy
Leinster's Gordon D'Arcy

Ruaidhri O'Connor and David Kelly

GORDON D'ARCY looks set to return to the Leinster team for Saturday's Heineken Cup clash with Scarlets, but the Pool 5 match looks like it will come too soon for Rob Kearney.

D'Arcy faces a battle with Fergus McFadden to partner Brian O'Driscoll in the centre for the crucial meeting with the Welsh region in Llanelli, having seemingly overcome the rib injury he suffered against Edinburgh on September 22.

Joe Schmidt names his team for the match tomorrow and could opt to move McFadden on to the wing to accommodate the return of D'Arcy for his 205th Leinster appearance.

Kearney continues to recover from the back injury he incurred against Connacht three weeks ago, and the Lions full-back looks set to sit out another key fixture.

Meanwhile, former Leinster coach Michael Cheika has left the door open to the unlikely prospect of O'Driscoll joining him at Super Rugby franchise New South Wales Waratahs next year.

"Obviously I know Brian very well. It is no secret that he is one of a number of top players over there who would love to come down and play in the Super 15," Cheika said.

"I saw him before I left -- I went to say goodbye. But we haven't spoken since. I wouldn't want to do that to him or the club. He is in the middle of a season, the Heineken Cup is still on and they are focusing on that.

"It would be a big decision for him to leave Ireland."

"However, the thought is there with all the top players -- they would all love to come down and have a try. We don't have a marquee player, whether we would go down that road is something we would have to discuss."

Meanwhile, Munster coach Rob Penney has said his side are "feeling dark" ahead of this weekend's must-win Heineken Cup clash against Edinburgh at Thomond Park.

"They're trying to win every game," said Penney ahead of Sunday's clash, which is still some way short of a sell-out as Munster seek to bounce back from their defeat to Racing Metro.

"The boys feel as if they've let the team down, they've let the community down, they've let the jersey down. They just feel really dark about the situation they're in.

Positive

"All we can do week to week is try to build and grow and get better. Hopefully then the performances can produce positive outcomes."

Penney urged caution over Ronan O'Gara's hamstring injury, with the 35-year-old fly-half battling to be fit for Ireland's clash with South Africa on November 10. "It's something like three or four weeks tops," he said.

However, he is hopeful that Donncha O'Callaghan can recover from his hamstring injury in time to partner fit-again Paul O'Connell, though he stressed that Ireland's second-row talisman will require careful management.

"I think there will be a rollercoaster about his availability and unavailability due to the fact that his body is still getting to a state where, hopefully, we can get some longevity and consistency," added Penney.

And he delivered an upbeat assessment on Keith Earls' progress from a groin injury, though he is struggling to be fit for Ireland duty next month.

"Keith is making progress," he reported. "It was a groin tear rather than a strain. I can't give you a date, three weeks was the date 10 days ago. We just have to wait."

Irish Independent

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