Friday 17 August 2018

Leinster in bonus territory with big names set to return for trip to Scotland

Cullen: Hopes to have Sexton and O’Brien back. Photo: Sportsfile
Cullen: Hopes to have Sexton and O’Brien back. Photo: Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Leinster got their European campaign off to a successful start before almost 16,000 people at the RDS, and now hope to have Johnny Sexton, Sean O'Brien and Scott Fardy in the side for the trip to Glasgow.

While Sexton and O'Brien were doubtful for this opener, against Montpellier, Fardy withdrew on the morning of the game to be with his wife who was giving birth.

The only apparent injury concern to come out of this 24-17 bonus-point win was over captain Isa Nacewa, who went off with a damaged ankle. "We'll hopefully get a few experienced players back into the mix next week, and we'll have some more tough calls selection-wise," Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said afterwards. "(Young) Guys are getting experience all the time - guys coming in here for their first games in Europe. And they're only going to get better for that experience.

"I'm reasonably optimistic, I'd have to say (about the return of Sexton and O'Brien). We'll get them checked over the weekend and come in Monday/Tuesday and see how they go. We'll put a plan in place based on what we have seen of Glasgow so far and what we see from their game against Exeter. So it's another great challenge: Glasgow riding high off the back of six wins so it's not going to get any easier. It's just big game after big game at the moment."

For the European debutants who got their chance both James Ryan - who came in for Fardy - and Barry Daly had big games. Daly's try was the difference between the teams at the end.

"Yeah that's why Barry got picked," Cullen added. "He scores tries and I thought it was really good the way he finished. He made an unbelievable take in the air shortly after that as well. It's a huge step up for those guys when you think 18 months ago - even this time last year - Barry was in and out playing AIL and some B&I games. So it's fantastic the way he's come in, a great story."

Munster open their campaign in Castres tomorrow. It's the most common match-up in the history of European rugby, and Munster have nine wins from the previous 12 meetings.

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