Tuesday 25 June 2019

Leo Cullen backs Ross Byrne to deliver against Toulouse and has positive news on Sean O'Brien fitness battle

Ross Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Ross Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leo Cullen has confirmed that Sean O'Brien is due back from a broken arm in the next couple of weeks and should come into contention for the Six Nations.

Johnny Sexton is also said to not be in danger of missing Ireland's opening clash against England on February 2 as he is progressing well from a tendon issue in his knee.

"Johnny is making good progress as we've said," Cullen said at the RDS this afternoon.

"He should be okay by then. Players have to come through training so it's not straightforward. Like I said, a number of these injuries have been training injuries, little niggles and there's always big games coming up, so it's important we're doing right by the players."

Leinster are dealing with an injury crisis ahead of their crunch Champions Cup clash against Toulouse tomorrow as Rob Kearney and Dan Leavy became the latest Ireland internationals to miss out.

Already without Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner, Cullen has been forced into making several changes against a locked and loaded Toulouse side.

Kearney picked up a low grade quad injury and will be assessed ahead of the Wasps game next weekend, as will Leavy who suffered a calf problem in training.

Toner misses out with an ankle problem, but is also not expected to be facing a lengthy spell out.

In more positive news, Henshaw returned to full training this week following a hamstring injury and he has "passed his objective markers."

Ross Byrne will replace Sexton at out-half and Cullen backed the 23-year old to lead Leinster to victory.

"He played the home game against Montpellier and played the away game against Montpellier," the champions' head coach recalled.

"If you remember the Exeter game at the Aviva last year and he comes on after two minutes of the game and steers us around the pitch. As you say, played the semi-final here.

"Played the Munster game away in Thomond last year, in those conditions and that wind. Again with the Munster game in the Aviva.

"So Ross has a tonne of experience, he has a couple of caps under his belt as well. Again, it's just another step in his progression. He leads the team well, he's a very clear understanding of what's expected and how we want to play the game. So, no issues with Ross, he's been fantastic."

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