Saturday 25 November 2017

Return of internationals strengthens Cullen's hand for Ospreys

John Fogarty (SPORTSFILE)
John Fogarty (SPORTSFILE)
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Leinster look set to welcome back a handful of international stars for the visit of Ospreys to the RDS on Saturday with Ian Madigan, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Cian Healy among those back in training with the province yesterday.

Just 17 remained in Carton House with Joe Schmidt yesterday, meaning Leinster's hand was strengthened significantly as they bid to keep the pressure on table toppers Connacht.

They trail Pat Lam's side by a single point heading into the weekend but do have a game in hand as they prepare to welcome eighth-placed Ospreys to Dublin.

And the return of the international players comes at just the right time as scrum coach John Fogarty revealed that they have concerns over Jack Conan, Garry Ringrose and Mick Kearney ahead of this weekend.

"Jack Conan dropped out before the (Zebre) game, so he had a small bit of stiffness around the ankle, which was disappointing for him but it was very much precautionary. He should be fine leading into this week," Fogarty said, as the province put their 100pc Pro12 home record this season on the line once more.


"From the game, there was a couple of bangs and bruises but nothing too serious. Tadhg Furlong rolled an ankle, so he's going to be assessed as the week goes on to see how he goes.

"Garry Ringrose got a bang on the leg. Again, it's nothing too hectic, and that's really it. Mick Kearney has a small bang, but it's just bangs and bruises really."

"They haven't been ruled out this week, but they're not in this weekend (either), they're being assessed as the week goes on so today is (too) early."

The concern surrounding Furlong's ankle could be eased if, as expected, Mike Ross returns to the set-up ahead of Saturday.

Fogarty had a special word of praise for Ireland U-20 skipper James Ryan after he led his side to a heroic come-from-behind victory away to England last weekend.

"Dave Fagan had done really well to get him in great nick to play in that way. I don't want to hold off. I want to see him play, absolutely. We'll see where he goes. He's a young, young player in the front five, he's coming out of school, he's had a season in Lansdowne U-20s. He's in the sub-Academy, he's played his first U-20s Six Nations. He's performed really, really well. We're going to look to the World Cup, and that's what you do (and see) now, how's he going to do in the World Cup? Hopefully he'll continue on."

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