Sport Rugby

Monday 19 March 2018

In Brief: Aironi desperate to derail Leinster

AIRONI are targeting victory over Leinster at the Stadio Zaffanella tomorrow to prove their worth in the Magners League after a tough debut season, writes Hugh Farrelly.

The Italians have managed just one win from 20 league outings (last month's 25-13 win at home to Connacht) and with just the Leinster game and another home clash against Ospreys to go, second-row Marco Bortolami (30) says they are determined to end the season on a positive note.

"We must demonstrate that this team has grown during the season," insisted the former Italy captain.

"They will both be extremely tough matches, against two teams who are still looking for a spot in the play-offs. But playing at home, we must battle right to the end to get a good result."

Bortolami is hoping the prospect of facing Toulouse in the Heineken Cup semi-final the following week will leave Leinster vulnerable and is taking confidence from the fact that Aironi managed to leave the RDS with a losing bonus point when the teams clashed in February.

Munster big guns ready for Ospreys

MUNSTER'S big guns return to their squad for tomorrow's Magners League clash with the Ospreys as coach Tony McGahan gears up for next weekend's Challenge Cup semi-final against Harlequins.

Ronan O'Gara, Keith Earls, Doug Howlett, Felix Jones, Tony Buckley, Damien Varley, Conor Murray, Donncha O'Callaghan, David Wallace and James Coughlan are all included in the 27-man panel to travel to Swansea after missing the win over the Scarlets.

Munster have already secured a home play-off semi-final, but the fourth-placed Welsh side are desperate to bounce back from their surprise defeat to the Dragons last week. Second-row Alun-Wyn Jones has called on the Ospreys to end the season on a high and says the departure of a number of players should inspire a big performance.

"There are players going to France and going home, and I know they will give it 100pc in the last games together," said Jones.


Shanklin retires due to injury

Wales centre Tom Shanklin (31)has been forced to retire due to a knee injury. Shanklin, who won 70 caps for Wales in a 10-year international career, had surgery in January but has conceded defeat in his battle to return to fitness.

The Cardiff Blues player was a Grand Slam winner in 2005 and '08 but his career was punctuated by injury problems.

Meanwhile, Wasps have announced that they have lifted a club ban imposed on England prop Tim Payne. Payne's team-mate, Wales international Andy Powell, remains suspended pending further investigations into an incident in a London pub earlier this week.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport