Leinster remain hopeful of Healy or O’Brien involvement against Wasps

January 1, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

Updated 15.24

LEINSTER REMAIN HOPEFUL that one of Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien will be available to play some part in Saturday’s decisive Champions Cup Pool 2 meeting with Wasps at Ricoh Arena.

Both Ireland internationals will take a full part in training in the coming days, including contact and set-piece work, and the province say they will make a final decision on their involvement closer to Saturday.

Three weeks ago, head coach Matt O’Connor indicated that Healy [post-hamstring surgery] and O’Brien [shoulder surgery] were unlikely to play a part in the group stages of the European competition.

Having Healy or O’Brien back in the matchday squad after long stints on the sidelines would naturally be a boost, but at this stage it appears that it would take an exceptional week of training for them to be involved.

As things stand, Leinster would only be able to use one of Healy or O’Brien this weekend, as neither player is currently registered in their European squad. However, the province do have one remaining ‘additional player’ slot available.

Leinster have until midday tomorrow [Tuesday] if they are to de-register a player from their 38-man group and register one of Healy or O’Brien, with the former looking the more likely.

“You’re always hopeful, but it’s a case of where they’re at physically, if they’re ready for a game like this. That decision will be made later in the week.”

Heaslip’s removal against Castres was a ‘precautionary’ measure. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Confirmation that Jamie Heaslip is fully fit despite exiting last weekend’s win over Castres early is a relief, given that this fixture against Wasps will decide whether or not Leinster move into the quarter-finals of the competition.

Captain Heaslip played 50 minutes of Saturday’s 50-8 hammering of Castres, whereafter he applied ice to his right shoulder. The Ireland number eight missed Leinster’s recent win over the Cardiff Blues due to an AC injury in the same area.

However, Leinster have stated that Heaslip is suffering no ill effects and will be available for this weekend’s clash in Coventry.

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“He’ll do exactly what everyone else is doing to today [in training] and he’s fine.”

Luke McGrath provided another example of his searing attacking threat against Castres, scoring a try during his 23-minute cameo off the bench.

Luke McGrath has been in sharp form for Leinster recently. Source: Simon King/INPHO

In what was his first European appearance for the province, the 21-year-old perhaps had an easy ride against poor opposition, and Eoin Reddan’s experience is likely to be vital against Wasps.

“I think you’re forgetting Bossy [Isaac Boss] as well,” said Murphy when asked if McGrath can push Reddan for the nine shirt. ”All three guys have different things to their game. Luke was used last week because we knew he’d give us good impact off the bench and, again, his running threat in and around the fringes is very good.

Overall, it’s unlikely that head coach Matt O’Connor and his coaching team will look to make numerous personnel changes for the trip to England as they seek to maintain the momentum they have gathered in recent weeks.

“I think you look for a little bit of freshness,” said Murphy, “but also the continuity is massive. There could be one or two changes but you wouldn’t see wholesale changes.”

Originally published at 14.14

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