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Contepomi And Payne Excited For Dublin Duel

Contepomi And Payne Excited For Dublin Duel

Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi has issued a positive injury update this week, while their round 13 opponents, Ulster, have welcomed back forwards Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor and Andrew Warwick to training.

Leinster begin 2019 with their third interprovincial clash of the festive period at home to Ulster, hosting Dan McFarland’s men at the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm) ahead of their mouthwatering European rematch with Toulouse.

Winger Barry Daly, who impressed with 13 tries last season, is back in full training and is expected to be available for selection this week after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury he sustained in the GUINNESS PRO14 opener against Cardiff Blues.

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Jack McGrath missed the last few games with a hip injury and is set to return to training this week along with fit-again full-back Rob Kearney, who is back from a dead leg. His younger brother Dave is unavailable for the Ulster match after picking up an adductor muscle injury during the warm-up against Munster.

Speaking at Leinster Rugby HQ, backs coach Felipe Contepomi is looking for a strong start to the New Year from the province, saying: “The whole team had moments (against Munster) where we have to improve. It’s not that I want to put the blame on the players who got the red and yellow cards, we all made errors and that ill-discipline harmed the whole team. It’s about 15 players, not two or three.

“That passion we had brought us to a moment where we can still win the game, but we had some critical moments of losing a lineout seven or eight metres from the Munster try-line when we were 16-10 behind.

“Those are the moments that we need to nail or get right. Personally, I feel very proud of the guys for the way they played. We don’t have to go through the emotions of the moment. We just have to focus on playing rugby, because we are a very good team when we play rugby.

“I’m personally very excited for the next four weeks. We’ve got four big games and it can put us in a very good position in terms of results or it can be, not catastrophic, but it would force us to reschedule our plans for the last part of the season, but I think we are in good position to move forward.”

Meanwhile, groin, ankle and knee injuries have cleared up for Ulster’s Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor and Andrew Warwick respectively. The trio have resumed training and are back available for selection.

Prop Tommy O’Hagan, who came on to make his Ulster senior bow away to Connacht, sustained a significant ankle injury during the 21-12 defeat. The province are awaiting further investigations on the extent of the injury, while in-form number 8 Marcell Coetzee sustained a concussion in Galway and will follow the return-to-play protocols.

Eager for the Ulstermen to bounce back with a big performance in Dublin, their defence coach Jared Payne commented: “There’s a pretty good buzz amongst the guys in training, in particular. They are keen and excited. It’s a great chance isn’t it, people don’t expect much from the group. There’s no better opportunity to play without fear, and it’s a pretty good place to be.

“It’s key to a successful performance, so we’ll be aiming to hopefully start well, because I think if we don’t, Leinster are a quality outfit and they really will put us to the sword if we start poorly, like against Connacht (last weekend.

“Leinster are such a good team that they’ll learn from that (loss to Munster), so we’ve just got to worry about ourselves and about fronting up and putting our best foot forward on the day. It all comes down to accuracy. The players will have this at the forefront of their mind.

“We need to be more accurate in key areas and hopefully not give the opposition many chances. We gave away a few silly penalties the last day and lost the ball a bit and they got into our half and 22 and we were a bit passive in our defence.”