Stuart Lancaster ‘confident’ key Leinster quartet will be ready for Wales opener in the Six Nations

Sidelined: Leinster and Ireland prop Tadhg Furlong, left, and team-mate Josh van der Flier. Photo: Sportsfile

Cian Tracey

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster insists that he is “very confident” Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Josh van der Flier and Jordan Larmour will be fit for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday week.

The Leinster quartet are struggling with various knocks, but they are set to travel to Portugal with the Ireland squad this week for a warm-weather training camp. Furlong and Ryan have been sidelined with calf and hamstring injuries respectively, but both key forwards are expected to win the race to be fit in time for Wales’ visit to Dublin.

A groin issue forced Van der Flier off at half-time of Leinster’s thumping win over Bath, and while Larmour also had to leave the pitch to have a facial injury treated, he returned and is also in line to be available for selection next week.

The news will come as a major boost to Andy Farrell, whose 37-man squad and backroom staff all underwent PCR testing yesterday ahead of the departure to Portugal.

Farrell will hope to encounter no further issues on the back of the results, as the Ireland head coach looks to build on a successful November series.

Asked how confident he was of Furlong, Ryan, Van der Flier and Larmour being able to feature against Wales, Lancaster said: “I think very. I say very but I’m not there, but from what I’ve heard, Jordan’s fine, Josh, I saw him yesterday and he seemed okay, James is making great progress and Tadhg is the same. So I think they fly to Portugal tomorrow and with a good week’s training out there, I’d be surprised if they’re not in contention.”

Elsewhere, French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has written to Champions Cup chiefs to express her “misunderstanding” of the decision cancel Toulouse’s clash with Cardiff – which meant a 28-0 defeat for the French side. The EPCR’s Match Risk Assessment Committee deemed the game was not safe to go ahead after Toulouse reported 20 positive Covid-19 tests.