Friday 19 October 2018

Earls ready to take French flight after knee injury

Keith Earls is on track to face Racing Metro. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Keith Earls is on track to face Racing Metro. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Keith Earls is on track to face Racing Metro in Munster's Champions Cup semi-final in Bordeaux on Sunday.

Earls, who continues to make strides with his recovery from a knee injury sustained in the Grand Slam win against England, is expected to return to full training this week.

However, there was mixed injury news for the province in the aftermath of their two-week South African trek as they launch their preparations at their UL base this morning.

Following Friday's win against the Cheetahs, Jack O'Donoghue and Dan Goggin are being assessed for respective ankle and knee knocks, while James Hart is following return-to-play protocols this week.

James Cronin, who sustained a stinger/shoulder injury against the Southern Kings in the first match of the tour, is progressing well and is expected to return to full contact training this week.

A further boost sees Duncan Williams' facial injury heal much better than first expected.

The scrum-half, who was initially ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for an eye, cheekbone and palate injury, will meet with the specialist to discuss a possible earlier return time.

Decision

Leinster have confirmed that they may need to make a decision as early as today concerning the potential availability of both Sean O'Brien and Luke McGrath for Saturday's Aviva semi-final against Scarlets.

While Robbie Henshaw is expected to start this weekend for the first time since dis-locating his shoulder during the Six Nations, Leinster have key choices to make about others.

Chiefly, the fitness of McGrath will have a knock-on effect not merely on the scrum-half role, which will be taken up by Jamison Gibson-Park should the Dubliner lose his battle.

Meanwhile, Pat Lam's Bristol Rugby are to be renamed Bristol Bears ahead of their return to the Aviva Premiership next season.

The Championship winners were named the Shoguns from 2001 to 2005 due to a sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi, and have now opted for another title switch. Owner Steve Lansdown insisted the new name will help Bristol target a "global audience".

"This is an exciting and major commitment to ensuring the future success of the club," said Lansdown.

"In order to succeed in our mission to inspire our community through rugby success, we must make bold changes to ensure we are prepared for the demands of this highly competitive, dynamic environment.

"We have to be prepared to break the mould and be relentless in driving the progression of this club."

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