Ahead of the start of the Heineken Cup, Leinster have suffered a setback with the news that a heart condition will keep hooker Richardt Strauss sidelined for the rest of the season.
Following the result of extensive medical tests, it has emerged that Ireland international Richardt Strauss has been diagnosed with a heart condition and will be unavailable for selection for the remainder of the season.
The Leinster management are confident that the 27-year-old, who is set to undergo surgery this week, will make a full recovery and will provide him with the best care in his recovery.
Speaking at training today in UCD, the province’s head coach Matt O’Connor commented: “Richardt’s in a really good place, he’s in a good frame of mind. It’s disappointing for us in the short term but his health is a lot more important.
“It’s a very minor procedure, if there is such a thing in relation to your heart. But he’s really confident and the rest of us are really confident that he will make a full recovery.
“It’s just sort of working out, together with the anti-clotting medication, the appropriate time frame which they haven’t given us in concrete at this point. It’s probably less of an issue for us relative to getting the guy back in a healthy state.”
Lote Tuqiri suffered a recurrence of the hamstring strain, which has curtailed him in recent weeks, during the RaboDirect PRO12 derby defeat to Munster. He is set for a further spell on the sidelines.
It is hoped that he will be available for the Heineken Cup round 2 game against Castres Olympique at the RDS.
Brian O’Driscoll (calf strain) has a 50/50 chance of being fit for the pool opener away to the Ospreys on Saturday and will continue to receive treatment from the medical team this week ahead of Friday’s team announcement.
Better news for Leinster is the arrival of Springbok international Zane Kirchner who has finally linked up with the province following a series of impressive displays in the Rugby Championship.
Kirchner, who featured against the All Blacks at Ellis Park last Saturday, will train with his new team-mates this week and could come into the frame.
Luke Fitzgerald successfully came through his comeback match in Limerick alongside Sean O’Brien who featured for the province for the first time this season following arm surgery.
In addition, Dominic Ryan reached the 50-cap landmark after appearing as a second half replacement at Thomond Park.
Ahead of the start of the Heineken Cup, where a number of players could be in the frame for their first European caps over the coming weeks, veteran centre Gordon D’Arcy is leading the way caps-wise – he has now made 92 European appearances for the province.
Leinster ‘A’ will also kick off their British & Irish Cup campaign on Saturday afternoon at home to Ealing at Donnybrook (kick-off 2.30pm). The squad will include a number of Academy players and the team will be announced on Friday.
There is free entry for Leinster Season Ticket holders as the squad gear up for the defence of the title which was won last season in Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Leinster’s Heineken Cup round 2 game against Castres at the RDS on Saturday, October 19 (kick-off 3.40pm) is on course to be a sell-out with over 16,400 tickets now sold for the visit of the Top 14 champions.
Tickets for Leinster v Castres are on sale online here as well as from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.