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Healy: Interpros Have ‘An Extra Edge’

Healy: Interpros Have ‘An Extra Edge’

The Leinster players have stepped up their preparations for Saturday’s crunch Magners League clash with Connacht at the Sportsground (kick-off 6.05pm).

Luke Fitzgerald sustained a knock during Leinster’s 25-23 victory over Saracens at Wembley last Saturday. An X-ray on Monday afternoon has revealed that he suffered bruising and it is expected that he should be fit to resume training on Thursday.

Brian O’Driscoll is progressing well from the hamstring strain he suffered against Racing Metro 92 and at this stage he has not been ruled out of Saturday’s interprovincial derby, which will be Leinster’s fourth away game in their opening six Magners League games this season.

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Regular captain Leo Cullen successfully came through his first appearance in six months as a second half replacement in London last weekend and is available for selection.

Jonathan Sexton, who scored all 25 points for the province against Saracens, also came through the weekend unscathed after his recent quad injury.

Meanwhile, injured lock Ed O’Donoghue (knee) is making good progress in his rehabilitation but is unlikely to be available to face Connacht. The Leinster team and replacements will be announced on Friday afternoon.

Speaking ahead of the derby meeting with the westerners, Leinster prop Cian Healy said that the squad are ready to face a stern examination against an in-form Connacht side.

“Connacht are an improving team and over the last couple of seasons they have been becoming stronger,” he said.

“Over the last couple of years the Leinster game was one of their targets and they probably saw it as a good opportunity to get one over us.

“There will be stiff opposition from them (on Saturday) and the Sportsground is a tough place to go. But a few of the Leinster boys will be going out there with a real point to prove that it’s not just big day occasions that we play for.

“We have had three big games lately and this is one where we can easily let the foot off the gas if we don’t come out with all guns firing.”

Commenting on his selection in the Ireland squad for the autumn internationals, Healy added: “I haven’t really thought about it (the GUINNESS series) because there are couple of big games coming up and these two ahead of us are important in the context of the Magners League.

“I’m obviously happy about the selection, but we want to get ourselves back to winning form (away from home) in the Magners League, so that’s our main focus now.”

This weekend’s game is Leinster’s second interprovincial derby in the space of three weeks. They beat Munster in front of a record league crowd of 50,645 at the Aviva Stadium, and will be keen to win at the Sportsground where they have not tasted victory since February 2008.

“There’s an extra edge, personally speaking, when you’re playing against players you know,” agreed Healy, who recently celebrated his 23rd birthday.

“It’s the same when you play against Munster or Ulster. You know the players from the Ireland camps and, although you never really say it, it’s good to get one over them even though you obviously still stay friends.”