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Ringrose Nearing Return As Leinster Regroup For Scarlets Tie

Ringrose Nearing Return As Leinster Regroup For Scarlets Tie

There were no fresh injury concerns for Leo Cullen and the Leinster coaches after last Friday’s late GUINNESS PRO14 defeat away to Edinburgh.

Fit-again winger Adam Byrne made his first appearance for Leinster since November 3 and came through the game in Myreside with no issues following a knee injury.

Despite the 29-24 defeat to Richard Cockerill’s Edinburgh side, Leinster picked up two bonus points which, coupled with the Scarlets’ loss away to Benetton Rugby, meant the province hit the summit in GUINNESS PRO14 Conference B on scoring difference.

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Leinster face the Scarlets twice over the next three weeks in what will be a season-defining series of games for them in the PRO14, with the Southern Kings visiting the RDS for the first time on Friday week, in between the matches against the Welsh side.

Looking forward to Saturday’s first encounter with the Scarlets, the province’s senior coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Scarlets is a huge game for us. Last time we played them we lost at the RDS. We’ve got Scarlets and then in two weeks’ time, we go back down there (to Llanelli).

“Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s going to define who’s going to come top of the conference or not, so it’s a huge game for us. I fully expect the Scarlets to defend the way they’d defend if they’d have all their internationals, they’ll attack the same way. And it’s the same for us.

“It’s up to us to take the lessons from the games, we played them three times last year and we lost fair and square down there (in Llanelli), we beat by 40 points at the RDS and we lost the semi-final. There’s trends you can look at in those three games and a lot of lessons we can learn.

“They’re huge games, these next ones. I showed the players this morning the run-in that we’ve got and the run-in that we’ve got. We know what our run-in looks like and we know what Scarlets’ run-in looks like, but we also know that these next two games against Scarlets will be definitive really, and go a long way to deciding who is going to come top of the table and get that home semi-final.”

Lancaster admitted that Garry Ringrose is ‘close’ to returning in Leinster blue after undergoing ankle surgery last month, adding: “I don’t think he’ll feature this weekend. Obviously with Robbie Henshaw’s injury I think everyone wants to see Garry back anyway, but we want to make sure he’s 100% right and the sensible thing is for everyone to get game-time, so we’ve got (Southern) Kings around the corner.

“He hasn’t actually trained with the team yet. He’s done work on the side of the pitch – he certainly seems to be running well there – but hasn’t actually changed direction, made decisions in the moment. So once he takes that step, we’ll all be in a better idea of where he’s going to be.

“It’s a measure of how quickly Garry has become a (Joe) Schmidt favourite that he is even being considered to face Wales on Saturday week. I think everyone recognises Garry’s quality. It’s been such a hugely frustrating season for him because the shoulder injury, compounded by the ankle injury.

“He’s certainly got the quality (to come straight in), but that will be Joe’s call. He knows how quickly he can get up to speed in the Ireland camp. From our point of view, he’ll be back in the mix sooner rather than later. Obviously Ireland will pick him when he’s ready. It depends on the player, on how long they’ve been out. it’s not impossible, but it’s a big step.”

Tickets for Saturday’s Conference B top of the table clash between Leinster and the Scarlets at the RDS (kick-off 3.15pm) are on sale online now.