LEINSTER WILL HEAD into Heineken Cup action without Brian O’Driscoll for the second week in a row, with the Irish international centre having failed to recover from a calf strain.
Head coach Matt O’Connor confirmed that news at the RDS this afternoon, but failed to identify a time frame for O’Driscoll’s return to action.
Brendan Macken filled in at 13 for Leinster in last Saturday’s important 19-9 win away to the Ospreys and was generally solid throughout. It now appears that the 22-year-old former Blackrock College star will continue at outside centre for this weekend’s visit of Top 14 champions Castres.
Brian won’t play this week, he’s still struggling with that calf,” said O’Connor. “You know, the medics are pretty confident that he’ll be involved some time soon.”
“We hope he plays next week [versus Connacht]. He may or may not. It is yet to be determined. It is certainly not going to be months but who knows?”
Joe Schmidt will be relieved to hear that O’Driscoll’s calf problem is expected to clear up in the short-term, with the Lions centre still very much in the Ireland coach’s plans.
For Leinster, O’Driscoll is not the only injury doubt ahead of the Castres encounter. Mike Ross was forced off the pitch midway through the first half against the Ospreys last weekend with a hamstring strain, and O’Connor says he continues to be monitored this week, with no decision made yet on his involvement.
We’ll wait and see. He’s recovered, he’s better but it’s one of those where you don’t really want to risk a re-strain. So we’ll take it to kick off, we’ll see where he gets to.”
The two Ireland internationals aside, Leinster look to have a clean bill of health. Lote Tuqiri continues to work his way back from the hamstring strain he picked up against Munster in the Pro12, but the rest of the squad came through the Ospreys game unscathed.
“Bumps and bruises off the intensity of the contest last week in Wales, but everyone’s come through. Everyone else is available. Lote [Tuqiri] is still out with that hamstring, but the rest of the boys involved last week are flying.”
Leinster will name their team for the Castres clash at midday tomorrow.