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Leinster Lose McGrath To Injury For Eight Weeks

Leinster Lose McGrath To Injury For Eight Weeks

Luke McGrath is pictured in action during Leinster's BKT United Rugby Championship first round defeat to Glasgow Warriors ©INPHO/Craig Watson

Leinster scrum half Luke McGrath is set to miss the start of the Investec Champions Cup next month, following confirmation that he will be unavailable for up to eight weeks due to a knee ligament injury.

McGrath sustained the injury during Leinster’s BKT United Rugby Championship opener away to Glasgow Warriors, and missed their 34-13 defeat of the Hollywoodbets Sharks at the RDS on Saturday evening.

The province’s injury list also contains Cian Healy (shoulder), Ed Byrne (hamstring) and Alex Soroka (foot), while a hamstring injury from the Glasgow game means hooker John McKee is also currently sidelined.

Prop Michael Milne, who is working his way back from a shoulder injury, is another absentee for next Saturday’s round 3 clash with Edinburgh, which could see Leo Cullen’s men put together back-to-back home wins.

Speaking about the province’s scrum half stocks with McGrath injured and Jamison Gibson-Park resting up after his Rugby World Cup exploits, head coach Cullen said: “It’s just about bringing the young guys through. There’s no easy way as I’ve said many times before.

Cormac (Foley) is getting his games now. Ben (Murphy) came off the bench (on Saturday), Fintan (Gunne), we just need to get him out at some point.

“We have five 9s in the building, between three senior 9s, Jamison away, Luke injured now, Cormac. Ben Year Three Academy and Fintan Year One Academy.”

Ireland internationals Jack Conan, Ryan Baird and Joe McCarthy have returned to training with Leinster, but it remains to be seen if they will be involved against Edinburgh, with Cullen saying, ‘we will make some calls but we are pretty comfortable with the group that we have as well’.

It was not all plain sailing for Leinster in the Sharks match, with Lee Barron’s second half sin-binning seeing Scott Penny briefly step in as a lineout thrower. The 24-year-old Penny has earned praise for his leadership skills having captained the team for the start of the new season.

“I think Scott was excellent with how he led the team (against the Sharks) and put in a performance for us, but in particular with how we handled that (sin bin period), on multiple levels,” admitted Cullen.

“I’m pleased with how we managed that period because the game was a little bit sticky. We managed that pretty well. Harry (Byrne) gets a penalty and then we get back up the other end of the field pretty well and Rob Russell scores that try.

“Lots of good stuff in the game and plenty for us to get better at, that’s probably what we need to go after. It was good to be off the mark and we’ve got some points on the board now, which is good. Last weekend in Glasgow was a pretty frustrating performance for us.

“It was a frustrating day for the lads, but plenty of good learnings. It has been a short week this week and the lads have worked hard this week. A much better performance across the board as well.”

Meanwhile, Seapoint Dragons’ Andrew McCarthy has linked up with the Leinster squad this week as their ‘Culture Captain’, as part of Energia’s Rugby for All initiative which promotes participation in rugby among those with physical and learning differences.

Andrew, who has Down Syndrome and is the brother of Leinster players Joe and Paddy McCarthy, is being integrated into the squad ahead of next Saturday’s match against Edinburgh.

He will have the opportunity to connect with the players, coaches, and staff, and gain first-hand experience of the rigorous preparation and dedication of professional rugby while helping to positively impact the team culture and atmosphere.

Andrew’s integration is seen as a positive development for Leinster Rugby as they gain a different perspective to enhance a positive team atmosphere. The development also reflects Leinster’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and fostering a culture of belonging for everyone involved.

Energia have conducted extensive research to understand the landscape of the game for those with physical and learning difficulties. From the resulting research findings, they have planned a significant level of activity over the remainder of the partnership with Leinster Rugby which runs to 2028.

Energia’s goal is to help grow participation in the game of rugby among people with physical or learning difficulties to over 1,000 players in 40 clubs in Leinster by 2028.

Cullen expressed his enthusiasm for Andrew’s involvement, saying: “We are thrilled to have Andrew join us as our ‘Culture Captain’ for this week. He’s been welcomed in by the squad, most of whom would know him through his brothers Joe and Paddy.

“We’ve already been fortunate to see the energy and enthusiasm he’s brought into the squad environment which we feel will continue to have a positive impact on the team culture.”