Friday 20 April 2018

'Too big a game to miss' - Saracens star to face Leinster just five days after surgery to fix fractured cheekbone

 

22 April 2017; Brad Barritt of Saracens during the European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final match between Munster and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
22 April 2017; Brad Barritt of Saracens during the European Rugby Champions Cup Semi-Final match between Munster and Saracens at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ticket sales for Leinster's Champions Cup quarter-final with Saracens on Sunday have moved past the 48,000 mark, with the province anticipating close to a capacity crowd.

And the province received a boost with news that No 8 Billy Vunipola has been ruled out of the equation for the champions, having failed to recover from the broken arm he suffered in January. Although England lock George Kruis is fit to play, the English club rate out-half Owen Farrell as only 50-50 as he struggles with a quad problem. Alex Lozowski is on stand-by.

Centre Brad Barritt, who fractured a cheekbone last weekend, had surgery on Tuesday, trained yesterday morning and has been declared fit for the game.

"This is too big a game to miss," said the former England man.

"I had a horizontal crack in my cheekbone so I had a titanium plate put in there. They numbed the side of the mouth, created an incision, used what looks like a shoehorn to pull the cheek back, scraped away to the bone and put in a vertical plate and then drilled it in. It sounds more painful than it was."

Leinster still have concerns over Jack Conan, who injured his knee last weekend, while Sean O'Brien and Rhys Ruddock had fitness tests yesterday.

After squeezing into the last eight as the bottom seeds, Saracens coach Mark McCall heaped praise on the Irish province.

"They were unbeaten in the pool stages - their pool wasn't an easy pool, they had Exeter, Montpellier and Glasgow, who are top of their leagues," McCall said. "So that shows you how good Leinster are."

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