Leinster cling to hope O’Driscoll and Heaslip can make Clermont tie
Leinster are clinging to the hope that Brian O'Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip will be cleared to play in the Lansdowne Road rematch on Saturday amid a growing injury crisis following the province's 20-13 defeat in Clermont last weekend.
O'Driscoll, who has not played since suffering a "cracked" jaw in Ireland's final November international against Argentina, is scheduled to return to a specialist on Friday. Heaslip is fighting to recover from the ankle injury that forced him off last weekend.
"Jamie Heaslip's highly unlikely to play, his ankle is badly swollen and he's hobbling around at the moment, we're going to give him until Friday and hopefully,something can happen," said Leinster coach Joe Schmidt. "We're also hoping to get an all-clear for Brian on Friday, but again that's right up in the air. He's back to the specialist on Friday.
"I'd say it's 70-30 against at the moment. Broken bones are broken bones. It's not like you can jab it or bandage it up. I don't think we can make any sort of decision until Friday."
Eoin O'Malley filled in for O'Driscoll last weekend and was one of Leinster's stand-out performers, but Schmidt revealed that the 22-year-old fractured his rib towards the end of the game and said the likelihood of his unavailability on Saturday is "99pc."
However, the Leinster coach was far more positive on back-row, Sean O'Brien, who took a series of heavy blows in the clash against Clermont, struggling to keep his balance at one stage.
He played on, Schmidt stating afterwards that his injuries had "nothing to do with his head."
Schmidt said that, while O'Brien did not train yesterday and was doubtful for the session tomorrow, the Leinster medical team were encouraged by his progress.
"It's good news on Sean O'Brien, he took a number of hits, but there's no damage to his ribs, just bruising. He's also got a 'stinger' and got a shoulder in the head from (Siione) Lauaki, but the Tullow fellow's fairly robust and he's back on Saturday we're pretty sure.
"Our medics have been generous and said he can maybe do a captain's run on Friday."
If O'Driscoll and O'Malley are definitely ruled out, Fergus McFadden is set to start next to Gordon D'Arcy in midfield with David Kearney coming on to the left wing.
Leinster's Ireland back-row, Kevin McLaughlin, returned to light training yesterday following knee and shoulder injuries and is on schedule for a return some time in the New Year.