12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika will make a decision today on whether his fellow Australian Chris Whitaker will start at scrum half in Saturday's Heineken Cup tie with Gloucester. Whitaker has been nursing a considerable shoulder injury for the past couple of weeks and with Irish international Guy Easterby already ruled out, the 21-year-old Willis could step in to make his European bow.
Chris Whitaker, the Wallaby scrum half, has an English passport which means Leinster can field two foreign players in the Heineken Cup. 'Whits' will be hoping to end his birthday week on a high - he turns 32 today - by making his debut in Europe's premier tournament.
Gordon D'Arcy who has scored 18 tries in 38 starts for Leinster in the Heineken Cup. The Wexford man has donned the number 11, 12, 13 and 15 jerseys for the province in Europe - he played at full-back against Swansea in 2003.
Cillian Willis' rugby career took off at Blackrock College where he won a Leinster Junior Cup medal. He has been a member of the UCD senior squad for the past two seasons and he gained a degree in commerce from the Belfield college, earlier this year. He has been capped at Under-21 level for both Leinster and Ireland.
Leinster boss Michael Cheika rounds up his forwards for a chat. The Australian is expecting the Cherry and Whites, who currently lie third in the Guinness Premiership, to provide a stern test for his pack.
He said: "Gloucester are very brutal up front. They play the game hard up there in the tight five. Their back row is quite complimentary because (James) Forrester is a very dynamic player in the loose, while (Andy) Hazell and (Peter) Buxton are always in there really roughing it up, particularly on the ground.
"(Peter) Richards, who is a player with a lot of Sevens experience, is there running their game very nicely from scrum half and he's always putting himself in the way of the opposition. So they'll look to dominate there and then release their backs, and their backs are quite exciting."
Girvan Dempsey who is set to make his 50th appearance for Leinster in the Heineken Cup this weekend. The Terenure College clubman, who turned 31 this month, has scored a try in each of the past three seasons of the tournament.
Leinster captain Brian O'Driscoll and his good friend and Ireland colleague Denis Hickie clown around at Old Belvedere. Between them, the two Dubliners have scored 34 tries in 87 appearances in the Heineken Cup. Winger Hickie shades it with 18 scores.
Leinster players, including young Cillian Willis who made his senior debut for the province last week against the Borders, close in for a team talk from the management.
Michael Cheika's current Heineken Cup record reads: Played Eight, Won Five, Lost Three, Points For 261, Points Against 189, Tries For 32 and Tries Against 18.
Shane Horgan, who has been one of Irish rugby's most consistent scorers in the Heineken Cup with 12 tries in his last 15 appearances, shows off his soccer skills as he back heels the ball.
**All photos by Morgan Treacy of Inpho Photography**