Leinster’s injury woes open door for returning O’Malley
EOIN O'MALLEY'S return from injury this week should have been suitably low-key.
A trip to the Ospreys on Sunday, when everyone else is looking ahead to the autumn internationals, provided the centre with the ideal opportunity to get back to action after suffering a cruciate knee injury back in May.
But with Brian O'Driscoll's ankle injury ruling him out of the back-to-back pool games against Clermont in December, the wheel might have turned full circle for Old Belvedere clubman O'Malley.
The 24-year-old made his Heineken Cup debut against Clermont in the Stade Marcel Michelin in 2010 when he wore O'Driscoll's No 13 shirt, as he and Gordon D'Arcy went toe-to-toe against the much bigger pairing of Aurelien Rougerie and Gonzalo Canale.
Leinster did enough to secure a crucial losing bonus point that day, with O'Malley winning many admirers for his gutsy display.
But with O'Driscoll sidelined for 10 weeks and Rob Kearney and Isa Nacewa struggling, O'Malley could find himself back on the front line again.
However, O'Malley only has eyes on getting some game time in the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.
"There is a game this week and nothing next week so I can go back and do a bit more training and sharpen up a bit," he said. "I need to get a ball in my hand as much as possible and get the rustiness out."
The Ospreys spoiled the Leinster party in the Pro12 final at the RDS in May and secured victory in both regular-season fixtures against Joe Schmidt's men last season.
With Wales scheduled to play four internationals compared to Ireland's three, the Red Dragon might have to delve a little deeper into their reserves than the Irish provinces -- which could further weaken the Welsh regions next month.
And, as O'Malley pointed out, some of these Leinster players have a point to prove after their shock defeat at the hands of Connacht.
"The Ospreys seem to be good off turnover ball. Their defence is pretty sharp. They are going to be missing a few guys and we will as well, so it'll be a tough game," he said.
"If you look through the team sheet, a lot of our players have played a good bit this season, so a lot of them will be sharp.
"The last time we played together as this group would have been the Connacht game, so a lot of guys wouldn't have been happy with their performance that night and have a lot to prove now. There should be a good buzz this week."