Click here for photos from Leinster’s training session at Donnybrook this week ahead of their crunch Heineken Cup clash with French side Bourgoin on Saturday.
Pictured above: Leinster and Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll back in training with his province on Tuesday. The star centre has been out of action since dislocating his right shoulder against New Zealand on the Lions tour last June. O’Driscoll is eyeing up a return to Leinster colours on St Stephen’s Day when Ulster visit Donnybrook in the Celtic League. Leinster coach Michael Cheika admitted: “I’m not going to tell anybody when to play. Between Brian and his doctor they’ll make a decision on when he’s ready to come back.
“It’s not like he’s the type of player that would try to dodge matches. Brian is desperate to come back. I’m 100% confident in his ability to decide when he’s ready to come back. It’s got nothing to do with me really.
“I’ve told him – when you’re ready, put your hand up, and you’ll be picked.”
O’Driscoll’s Leinster and Ireland centre partner Gordon D’Arcy takes a pass in training at Donnybrook. D’Arcy looked back to his best in Leinster’s 21-9 Celtic League defeat of Connacht last Saturday.
Brian O’Driscoll with young UCD fly-half Eoghan Hickey, who impressed in the Leinster ‘A’ team’s victory over Oxford University two weeks ago, in support.
Former Leinster assistant and Munster head coach Alan Gaffney, whose tenure as Australian assistant coach looks to be over after the recent sacking of Wallabies head coach Eddies Jones, watches Leinster train with the province’s supremo Michael Cheika. Leinster will be searching for their first home win of this season’s Heineken Cup at the RDS on Saturday. Cheika said of this weekend’s visitors Bourgoin: “They’re a typical French team and we will have to be aggressive from the start. They have a big pack and are quite a dynamic side with a good number 10 who has a strong passing game. We need to pressure them, play with pace and be aggressive.”
Leinster and Argentina talisman Felipe Contepomi has been top scorer for both province and country this season. The medical student leads the Celtic League scoring charts having bagged 108 points in seven games, while only Leicester fly-half Andy Goode (38) is ahead of the Puma back (37) after two rounds of Heineken Cup action.
Contepomi also scored 19 points – landing five penalties and two conversions – in Argentina’s 39-22 Test win over Italy in Genoa on November 19.
**All photos by Billy Stickland and Dan Sheridan of Inpho Photography**