Sport Rugby

Wednesday 21 March 2018

O'Malley in line for return to strengthen Leinster hand

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

EOIN O'MALLEY is the latest Leinster player to come off the injury list and back into the reckoning for places.

The centre has recovered from the cruciate knee injury he suffered last May and could make his return to action against the Ospreys on Sunday.

The light is appearing at the end of the tunnel for coach Joe Schmidt, whose selection options were severely limited earlier in this season -- Leinster could have Sean O'Brien and Luke Fitzgerald back for their next Pro12 game against Glasgow on November 23.

The trio have not played so far this season, but they are set to join fellow long-term absentees Dave Kearney and Rhys Ruddock -- who returned to action against Cardiff Blues last Saturday night -- in making welcome comebacks.

South African second-row Quinn Roux is another who is on the mend and is an outsider to come back in this weekend's fixture.

The European champions are also boosted by the arrival of New Zealander Andrew Goodman, who should make his debut at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday. A versatile back who joins from Tasman, he is expected to play some part in the centre against the Ospreys, with Ian Madigan set to revert to out-half after a spell at full-back.


"Andrew has come in and is training today," Leinster skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy said yesterday. "It will have to be a steep learning curve for him; we'd like him to be involved at the weekend.

"He is going to be centre or at 10. He will be in the midfield three and we're looking forward to seeing what he brings.

"He is excited about being here and already, he seems to be fitting in so well."

Murphy admitted that the hand injury suffered by Isa Nacewa will leave a major leadership void this weekend. The New Zealand-born Fijian international has been a big player for the province when their Ireland contingent are absent, and his loss will be felt in Swansea.

"It's a massive blow for us. Isa is a pivotal player for us in these moments. He's not there, so we have to look at other players stepping up and filling those shoes," said Murphy.

"It gives opportunities to players like Dave Kearney coming back in -- he did well at the weekend -- and others like Fionn Carr and Andy Conway to step in and fill them."

Murphy expects Sean Cronin to return from Ireland duty and play some part, while new prop Michael Bent may be released by Declan Kidney, having been parachuted straight into the Ireland set-up.

Otherwise, Leinster do not expect to have any of their Ireland contingent available this weekend.

Irish Independent

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