MUNSTER HAVE INCLUDED academy back row Dave O’Callaghan in their 28 man squad for this Saturday’s trip to face Northampton in Milton Keynes.
The Youghal native, who just turned 22, has been called up due to the knee-ligament injury sustained by Niall Ronan in the win over Castres. Ronan must undergo further assesment before a time-frame for his return is put in place. Injuries to Denis Leamy and David Wallace had already thinned the back-row options of head coach Tony McGahan, who is without a total of 11 players through injury (see them here).
McGahan is expected to stick with the combination used after Ronan’s withdrawal. That should mean a recall for Donncha O’Callaghan and another chance for Peter O’Mahoney to impress on the openside as Donnacha Ryan will revert to the number six jersey.
Ulster have been dealt a blow ahead of their pivotal trip to Clermont Auvergne with the news that centre, Darren Cave, will be out of action for six weeks after injuring his foot in last Friday’s 41 – 7 win over Leicester. Cave was replaced by Ian Whitten on the night and is again likely to take up the centre position alongside Paddy Wallace.
Meanwhile, Leinster are also vying for top seeding come the quarter final stage and they expect Jonathan Sexton to fully recover from the ankle knock he took in Glasgow. Sexton was fit enough to complete that game, though Fergus McFadden eased the pressure on him by taking over the kicking tee. With McFadden, Isa Nacewa and Rob Kearney all expected to be on the field for this Saturday’s 18,500 sell-out, the fly-half probably won’t risk a kick unless he is 100% fit.
Luke Fitzgerald missed the trip with minor strains in his glute and neck, so he should come straight back into the side for the visit of Montpelier. Returns are also expected for Richardt Strauss (face), Kevin McLaughlin (neck) and Steven Sykes (hamstring). The trio will be a welcome return as the provinces look forward to another long period without their top internationals.