Ireland trio in fitness boost for tests ahead
Leinster and Ireland have been given a triple injury boost as Sean O'Brien, Robbie Henshaw and Rob Kearney all declared they are on the verge of an imminent return to playing action, writes David Kelly.
However, while both full-back Kearney and new midfield signing Henshaw could both be pitched into the fray for the Aviva Stadium clash against Munster in ten days' time, back-row O'Brien remains tentative about his precise return date.
"This is my career as such, it's not about getting back for a certain game," says O'Brien. "This is about me wanting to play rugby for the next four or five years. There's no point me going back a week before I should because that is good night then."
He does concede that a Champions Cup return in two or three weeks' time could open the possibility of being face to fit the All Blacks in November but caution will detain any optimism.
Kearney and Henshaw, however, are both targeting earlier returns; Kearney began the season in full fitness after a literally hamstrung campaign in 2015-'16 but damaged his knee in the recent Pro12 visit to Glasgow.
"I ran yesterday on it for the first time, so Munster is the very best case," said Kearney of his varied scenarios.
His new team-mate, Henshaw, is also recovering from a battle of a wounded knee which prematurely ended his summer tour to South Africa.
"The body is really good," he reports. "I have got back to playing with a rugby ball instead of being in a gym doing rehab. I have two good sessions under my belt, it is a day-to-day focus.
"I will be introduced into contact next week and then see how the knee holds up. Maybe a one- or two-week time-frame. I am not sure.
"But there have been no setbacks or flare-ups with the knee which is positive. It's day-to-day, as of now it is going well.
"I'm really itching to get out there and play for Leinster, it's tough trying to wait but you need to be patient."