Sunday 25 February 2018

Moore and Kearney to boost Blues' summit bid

Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong goes through his warm-up routine during training in Belfield yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong goes through his warm-up routine during training in Belfield yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As a resurgent Scotland arrive in town this weekend, it is perhaps fitting that Leinster travel to take on the side that has been at the forefront of their recent revival.

The timing of Glasgow hosting Leinster on Friday night, a Pro12 fixture that was originally scheduled for last December before it fell foul of bad weather, will of course rob both teams of the majority of their front-line players but with a place at the summit of the table on offer, motivation won't be in short supply for the Blues.

Leo Cullen expects to be able to recall Dave Kearney (shoulder) and Marty Moore (hamstring) from injury. Kearney hasn't played since French captain Guilhem Guirado's reckless tackle on him in Paris, while Moore has been out since the defeat to Wasps back in January.

"I suppose the week off, normally you would have (during this two-week window) guys getting a week off and then they'd have a strength and conditioning week," Cullen explained.

"So last week we had a little bit of both. A few days off and guys were able to come back in and take care of a couple of niggles. When you play with a group of guys for the previous four weeks, you tend to pick up the odd bangs and bruises. It was good to be able to manage guys.

"Dave Kearney and Marty Moore, those guys are getting pretty close so we'll just see how they train this week. They're in the mix (for selection), yeah. They both trained on the field on Thursday."

In other positive injury-related news, Luke Fitzgerald is also nearing a return from the knee injury that he picked up in Ireland's opening training session at the end of January and he is likely to feature in the next couple of weeks, according to Cullen.

Sean O'Brien (hamstring) is said to be making "steady progress" and he is expected to return within three to four weeks with Jack Conan (ankle) and Isaac Boss (calf) set to do the same.

Tadhg Furlong was again left out of Ireland's 35-man squad but Cullen has backed his young prop to bounce back from his Six Nations disappointment.

"Finlay played at loosehead obviously so I presume that's part of the thinking there," the Leinster coach said of Bealham's selection ahead of Furlong.


"I think the (Pro12) games are good as well. I don't know the conversations that took place between the Irish management and Tadhg.

"Tadhg has come back in and applied himself really, really well. He's a huge contributor to the group so it's good for us just to have that. Tadhg has picked up some really good experience this year and he'll come through and be stronger for it."

In all, Leinster appear to be getting their key players back fit at just the right point in the season and with the play-off race heating up, Cullen knows the importance of edging one of their main rivals on Friday night.

"Back to Glasgow again. We've a slightly different plan, a slightly different team I'd say and slightly different weather but you never know.

"Both teams, Glasgow and ourselves, are similarly affected probably by the international window with anywhere between 10 and 15 players from each team that will be unavailable. It's a challenge.

"I think Glasgow's season has been slightly disrupted with the internationals but also with the fact that their ground, they've had to move around. Playing in Rugby Park and playing in Murrayfield for a home game hasn't been ideal for them."

Scotstoun is the venue on Friday and Cullen will be hoping that Glasgow's home discomforts continue as Leinster look to overtake Connacht at the top heading into the final stretch.

Irish Independent

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