Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey has issued an injury update after the St. Stephen’s Day win over arch rivals Munster in the GUINNESS PRO14.
With Connacht coming to the RDS on New Year’s Day (kick-off 3.15pm), Girvan Dempsey has given an update on a number of players that missed out on the Munster match, in addition to a few that picked up injuries during the game at Thomond Park.
Out-half Jonathan Sexton, who was withdrawn early on in the Champions Cup round 4 win over Exeter Chiefs, passed the return-to-play protocols without any issue and could have played against Munster if required, Dempsey confirmed.
As a result, Sexton will train as normal this week ahead of the Leinster squad announcement on Saturday at midday. Dempsey also confirmed that further assessment was needed on both Adam Byrne and Sean O’Brien before they would be deemed available for selection.
However, three players definitely ruled out of the derby clash with Connacht are forwards Jack McGrath, James Ryan and Richardt Strauss who all picked up knocks during the 34-24 bonus point victory in Limerick.
Prop McGrath, who captained his native province for the first time, has entered the return-to-play protocols having been removed for a head injury assessment against Munster, while second row Ryan went over on his ankle and will not be involved as a result.
Finally, hooker Strauss picked up a back injury and is also ruled out of the Monday fixture at the RDS. Ticket sales for Leinster v Connacht have now gone beyond 16,000 and the remaining tickets are available to purchase online here.
Leinster’s Sean Cronin, who played 62 times for Connacht between 2008 and 2011, knows how much a derby win at the RDS would mean to the westerners who are in buoyant mood after hammering Ulster 44-16 in their first festive interprovincial.
“They were really impressive,” Cronin said of that performance in Galway. “They seem to be motoring now and I think Kieran Keane has them right where he wants them. They pretty much demolished a formidable Ulster side.
“I think they’re buzzing at the moment and they’ll fancy their chances coming to the RDS. I’ve been really impressed with (their forwards coach) Jimmy Duffy and how he’s handling their pack. I thought their drive was immense against Ulster, put Ulster under all sorts of pressure.
“When your maul is rampaging up the pitch, gaining 20, 30 metres like it was, it’s easy to set your backs off then and that’s what it was. Ulster couldn’t really handle that.
“They’re going to be a huge challenge for us, their scrum was putting Ulster under pressure as well. They are two areas that we’ll have to get right to make sure that we’re able to compete, the scrum and the maul.
“Connacht are humming nicely in those two areas. I don’t think they are going to be too fazed by that challenge. They’ll be up for it and we’re going to have to be at the top of our game.”