Saturday 16 December 2017

Leamy trusts Munster to prevail - with or without O'Connell

David Kelly

David Kelly

Paul O'Connell will discover today the extent of the disciplinary wrath to be handed down by ERC disciplinary authorities -- but stand-in captain Denis Leamy is confident his side can take control of Pool 3 without their talisman.

O'Connell returned from an eight-month injury lay-off to make his Heineken Cup comeback, but lasted a mere 10 minutes after cuffing Ospreys forward Jonathan Thomas, earning a red card which sparked today's Dublin hearing.

"I think we just have to wait and see how things turn out," said Leamy ahead of the meeting at ERC head offices on Stephen's Green.

"I know we'll find out a lot more today, so we can plan from there. We haven't had him for a lot of the last eight or nine months, and he's a player that we've missed hugely, there's no denying that.

"I think we've learned to cope in the last couple of months without him, though, and we just have to continue that now. There is no denying that he would be an addition going to a place like the Liberty Stadium."

Munster will arm themselves with a strong argument to militate against a lengthy ban for their captain, albeit coach Tony McGahan refused to divulge the club's tactical approach. McGahan named O'Connell in his extended squad as a matter of routine rather than as a pre-emptive move ahead of today's hearing.

Munster will have the right to appeal, but will be unlikely to do so unless the judgment is, in their view, unnecessarily swingeing.

In any case, an appeal would be unlikely to be heard this week, while McGahan has already planned for Saturday's game in O'Connell's presumed absence as they seek to build on the 22-16 Thomond Park win last Sunday.

Meanwhile, McGahan has suggested that Munster and Paul Warwick will begin discussions next weekend following reports that Stade Francais are ready to pounce for the Australian.

Irish Independent

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