Leinster keeping quiet on Reddan injury ahead of joust with the Exiles
Leinster scrum-half Eoin Reddan has emerged as a major doubt for the Heineken Cup clash against London Irish at Twickenham this Saturday and there may be question marks over his participation in the early stages of the Six Nations.
Reddan is believed to have picked up a knock within the past few days although Leinster were last night refusing to comment, a spokesman confirming that there would be "no update until the team announcement", which is due tomorrow. Leinster only need a point to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.
Meanwhile, the English side's talismanic winger, Salosi Tagicakibau, may be included in coach Toby Booth's line-up.
The return of the Exiles' leading try-scorer this season would be a significant boost to a side who know they may almost certainly require a try-scoring bonus point to advance to the knockout stages.
Tagicakibau has not played since fracturing an ankle in London Irish's 9-9 draw at Harlequins in October.
"He has done two weeks' training now so I hope that potentially he is able to figure in some capacity," said Booth.
"You want your best players playing and he is there or thereabouts in relation to playing."
England international Topsy Ojo, who has not featured at all this season after having knee and shoulder surgery last summer, is also on the verge of a dramatic comeback.
"Topsy is probably in the same position," added Booth. "He has not played for a while. Adrenaline gets you through so much, but then again some of the boys who have played in that position have done very well."
Back-row forward George Stowers was also back training for the Exiles this week for the first time since injuring an ankle on international duty for Samoa.
Captain Bob Casey and England full-back Delon Armitage were excused some training this week because they are nursing slight injuries. Both are expected to feature in Saturday's Twickenham joust.
"We let ourselves down badly at Parc y Scarlets," said Casey, in reference to the stunning West Wales reverse where his side somehow conspired to convert a seemingly inevitable five-pointer into a big fat zero.
"We came with a gameplan but didn't implement it.
"Everything we spoke about beforehand -- the need to be precise in the first 30 minutes, to put them under pressure and get the scores that would force them to lose heart -- it just seems like so much hot air because we didn't do any of those things.
"Our mantra is about earning the right to go wide, but we didn't do that either. We didn't commit their players by taking the ball up the middle before we spun it. The game management was poor and we have all got to examine our role in that failure.
"We have one of the best defences in the Premiership, but we conspired to fall off tackles all day. Saturday's game against Leinster now becomes a cup final.
"We made a rod for our own back with a substandard performance and at Twickenham we have an opportunity to atone. We'll work all week to achieve that goal."
Booth has also pointed out that Leinster are already armed with a major advantage in the presence of referee Nigel Owens this weekend -- Owens accompanied Leinster's Heineken Cup charge from last season's quarter-final all the way to their Murrayfield success in the final.
"They have a massive lucky charm that we have to get over as well, which is Nigel Owens refereeing. He refereed their last quarter-final, semi-final and final so they seem to enjoy his refereeing.
"So that is something else we have to get over. But we like our backs against the wall so we will have to see."
Leinster's full-back Rob Kearney believes that the dramatic alteration of the landscape in Pool 6 following Sunday's dramatic result means that London Irish now have to chase a win.
"Well I suppose they wouldn't be a good side if they didn't expect to swing from the hip," says the man from the Cooley peninsula. "If they want to qualify, they have to win. It's as simple as that.
"And it's pretty much the same mentality that we'll be taking into the game, so it's one of those all-or-nothing games and both sides will have to throw everything. And whatever side doesn't fulfil the potential, probably doesn't deserve to qualify."
- The draw for the quarter-final and semi-final stages of the Heineken Cup will take place live on Sky Sports 2 on Sunday following the completion all the day's action at 5.10.