Leinster hopeful of deal for Rob Kearney as fears grow over Seán O'Brien injury
Leinster coach Leo Cullen has endorsed IRFU performance director David Nucifora's upbeat view on keeping Rob Kearney with the province after the World Cup.
Negotiations between the full-back, who returns to the starting XV for tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 final against Glasgow Warriors, and the IRFU are ongoing as he contemplates whether to continue in Ireland or take up an offer from abroad.
Nucifora dismissed comments from the Kearney camp earlier this week and struck an optimistic tone as he met the media yesterday and Cullen echoed his sentiments at Celtic Park today.
"Yeah, pretty similar, yeah we'd be very hopeful that Rob stays as well," he said.
"It's a little bit later, ideally you'd like to have these things done normally, but with the way some of the contracts roll with the World Cup, it's a little bit later, so that's why it has probably taken a little bit longer.
"But we're very keen for Rob to stay, we hope he does but I'm sure he has interest as well, but I thought Rob was exceptional in the Saracens game, comes back in fresh this week, so hopefully it's a good boost for our guys."
Worryingly, Cullen said Seán O'Brien had failed to recover from his hip problem in time to make his final appearance for Leinster before his move to London Irish.
And the coach said a further update on the Tullow native will come early next week.
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Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is set to name his World Cup training-squad on Monday or Tuesday, with training set to begin in mid-June.
Josh van der Flier remains at openside, with Max Deegan on the bench, while Johnny Sexton, Kearney and Scott Fardy come into the side for Ross Byrne, Dave Kearney and the injured Devin Toner.
"Seanie, he has just been a little bit slower now, we will probably have a bit more of an update on his next week," Cullen said.
"You know he has been struggling a bit with a hip injury that has been ongoing.
"While which ruled him out of this week. Max has been going really well. Max might be one of our highest minutes in terms of PRO14 this year so he has made a huge contribution towards getting us to this point, he provides us with good versatility across the back-row as well.
"Dev with his medial injury so it won’t be anything too major but it is a 4-6 week injury he is unavailable.
"Ross (Malony) who was out with his back comes back in (on the bench) so it is nicely times in a way.
"Dev is obviously a los for us, as is Seán, from an experience point of view but the other guys have probably played more games in terms of getting the teams to this place."