Full-back Rob Kearney and out-half Jonathan Sexton, Leinster’s two main injury concerns, have been included in the province’s 27-man squad for Saturday’s Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulouse at Le Stadium (kick-off 4.45pm local time/3.45pm Irish time).
Jonathan Sexton had to have a plate inserted in his fractured jaw after Leinster’s recent Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Clermont Auvergne.
Rob Kearney damaged ankle ligaments during the closing stages of that game, but the duo are being given every chance to prove their fitness ahead of the defending champions’ crunch clash with Toulouse.
Fergus McFadden (calf) and Girvan Dempsey (neck) have also been included in the province’s 27-man squad, despite picking up recent injuries.
McFadden, Eoin O’Malley, Ronan McCormack and Richardt Strauss join the 23 players who were on duty for the Clermont Auvergne tie at the RDS on April 9.
Leo Cullen is one of 15 Ireland internationals named in the provisional panel for the Toulouse trip which also includes the likes of Shane Horgan, who has scored 26 tries in 77 Heineken Cup appearances.
Gordon D’Arcy, who has touched down on four occasions so far in this season’s competition, is joined by Brian O’Driscoll’s whose 28 career tries in Europe leaves him in third place in the record brooks.
Scotland’s Nathan Hines and South Africa prop CJ van der Linde join Sexton, who has kicked 60 points so far in the campaign, in the extended squad. The starting team and replacements will be confirmed on Friday afternoon.
Upwards of 4,000 Leinster supporters are expected to make the trip to the south of France this weekend.
LEINSTER Squad (v Toulouse) – Backs (12): Shaun Berne, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Brian O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.
Forwards (15): Leo Cullen, John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Kevin McLaughlin, Malcolm O’Kelly, Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss, CJ van der Linde, Stan Wright.