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Tough Selection Calls Ahead For Leinster Boss O’Connor

Tough Selection Calls Ahead For Leinster Boss O’Connor

The Leinster squad trained in sunny conditions at UCD today as preparations continue ahead of Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 final against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS (kick-off 6.15pm).

Head coach Matt O’Connor reported that all of the players are in good form ahead of Friday’s team announcement.

Dave Kearney, one of the province’s notable absentees along with Luke Fitzgerald (groin) and Richardt Strauss (hamstring), will undergo surgery on Friday for the ACL injury he sustained in the semi-final defeat of Ulster.

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Mike McCarthy, who was announced as captain of the Emerging Ireland squad yesterday, continues to make good progress from his calf injury and trained again today as did Brian O’Driscoll, Fergus McFadden and Sean Cronin who all left the pitch against Ulster with injuries.

O’Connor spoke to the media today and was asked about the chances of Ian Madigan being picked in the centre where he impressed as a try-scoring replacement in the semi-final.

“It’s probably got merit off the back of what Ian gave us off the bench last time out. We just need to make sure that we get the balance of that right in relation to blokes who start and the change-up that we’ve got relative to the circumstances inside the game,” he said.

“The back row is a big one (in terms of selecting the starters), the halves is a big one, the front row is a big one. That’s not a surprise to anyone, that’s where we’ve got very good depth.

“We’ve got to make sure that we get the fittest blokes on the field and we get the best combinations to do the job.”

Commenting on second row McCarthy’s fitness, he added: “Mike is close, a lot closer than we would have thought. Today he trained well and we’re pretty positive that he will be there or thereabouts.

“We’ve just got to do a pretty good risk assessment of how long he’ll last and how good he is to take his place.”

Meanwhile, Leinster full-back Rob Kearney sympathised with his injured younger brother Dave who misses out on the league decider and also Ireland’s summer tour to Argentina.

“The bad thing for Dave is he seemed to be on such a high arc with every game. Timing wise, it could have been worse, could have been better. Injury wise, he could have done a lot more damage than he actually did,” he explained.

“He is going in for surgery on Friday, it was meant to be three or four weeks but he has got his range of movement and swelling went down quite quickly. ACLs are never nice…it should be around four, five or six months.”

The Leinster team to face Glasgow will be announced at midday on Friday. All tickets for the final are sold out but the game will be live on RTÉ Two, TG4 and BBC ALBA.