Friday 19 January 2018

O'Driscoll to play through pain barrier

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is going to play through the pain barrier for Leinster and lead them into battle for the opening game of their Heineken Cup defence on Saturday.

The champions' talisman looks set to overcome his ankle injury in time for the clash against Exeter Chiefs at the RDS.

The Ireland captain was taken off midway through the second half of his side's win over Munster last Saturday, but it was confirmed yesterday that he had simply turned his ankle and no significant damage was done.

Isa Nacewa and Andrew Conway are also expected to overcome the injuries that forced them off at the weekend, but major doubts remain over the availability of Kevin McLaughlin, who hyper-extended his arm and had to leave the fray after just 12 minutes.

The blindside flanker suffered no major damage and is in a race to be fit in time for the RDS opener but if he doesn't make it, Joe Schmidt is down to the bare bones in the back-row and could hand 21-year-old Jordi Murphy just his second senior start -- and Heineken Cup debut.

There was better news of captain Leo Cullen, who returned to training yesterday after an arm injury kept him out of the derby, while Isaac Boss and Cian Healy should also come back into the squad.

Gordon D'Arcy and Rob Kearney are also in contention, but a comeback for the Ireland and Lions full-back appears a long shot for this weekend.

Kearney continues to recover from a back injury, while D'Arcy has been forced off early in both of his appearances this season due to a rib injury and sat out last weekend's win.

Scrum-half Eoin Reddan had a warning for the defending champions, who have not lost at home in Europe since 2009.

The former Wasps star believes English Premiership clubs are at their most dangerous at this point of the competition and he called on his team-mates not to underestimate the newcomers, who hammered Premiership champions Harlequins on Saturday.

"If ever there's a danger this is it," the Limerick man said. "A few years ago we were Heineken Cup champions and we lost to London Irish, and I do think this is a big game for the English clubs because of the way their season is structured.

"They hit the ground running at the start of September, they iron out a few creases and they're flying now. Out season starts a bit differently."

Irish Independent

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