Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty has issued an injury update to the media ahead of the visit of Ulster to the RDS this Saturday in the GUINNESS PRO14 (kick-off 5.35pm).
Heading into a third PRO14 game in 11 days, John Fogarty admitted that the testing schedule had had an impact but that there were also positive updates to report on a number of players.
Luke McGrath was withdrawn for a head injury assessment late in the Connacht match on New Year’s Day, but he passed his HIA with no issues and will be available for selection this week.
Joey Carbery returns to on-field training having made significant progress in his recovery from a broken arm and while no definitive date was put on his return to action, Fogarty was encouraged by the progress made. Jack McGrath had come through his return-to-play protocols after the Munster game and is available for selection this weekend.
Fogarty was also positive regarding back rower Dan Leavy who was replaced during the hard-fought win over Connacht with a back injury. Further assessment of Leavy will be required this week before a final call is made on his availability.
Adam Byrne is also expected to train as normal this week having recovered fully from the knee injury that has kept him out of action since the GUINNESS Series with Ireland.
However, one player definitely ruled out of the interprovincial clash with Ulster is Rory O’Loughlin who took a knock in the final passage of play against Connacht and underwent a head injury assessment afterwards. O’Loughlin, who will now enter the return-to-play protocols, has been ruled out of the Ulster game.
The forwards trio of Richardt Strauss (back), James Ryan (ankle) and Sean O’Brien (hip) are also unavailable for selection this week, with Fogarty admitting: “Sean is unavailable for next week, that’s as far as it goes at the moment. He still has a bit of tightness and isn’t moving as free as he needs to be. We’re not going to risk it.
“He has had a few things that have caught him over the years. There are a lot of big moments ahead of us and for Ireland (in the second half of the season). We want to make sure he is in the best possible shape so he’s not going to be available this week.”
Meanwhile, round 12 saw Leinster flanker Josh van der Flier break the GUINNESS PRO14 record for tackles made in the 21-18 victory over Connacht. Opta began tracking that statistic in 2010 and van der Flier’s 34 tackles (none missed) broke the previous record which was jointly held by Cardiff Blues’ Josh Navidi (30) and Edinburgh prop Alasdair Dickinson (30).
It was a productive round for van der Flier’s Leinster team-mates, too, with lock Ross Molony (27) and try-scoring number 8 Max Deegan (26) chalking up 53 tackles between them. Deegan also had had three turnovers won to his name. Leinster’s latest addition on the wing, James Lowe, also contributed seven offloads.
Praising van der Flier’s record-breaking efforts, Fogarty said: “Josh has got an incredible appetite for work. He has become very, very accurate over the last few seasons so his entries into contact have improved hugely. That has led to good outcomes and he doesn’t get himself injured too much because of his good work on his entry into contact.
“He is a really good example to a young player as to how they should apply themselves and he’s a great example for our guys, young and old. To throw out numbers like that is pretty impressive and it’s due to his appetite for work.”
Tickets sales for the Leinster v Ulster round 13 encounter have hit the 17,000 mark, and supporters are encouraged to buy early this week to avoid disappointment.