LEINSTER HAVE NO fresh injury worries ahead of Friday evening’s RaboDirect Pro12 derby against Ulster in Ravenhill.
After securing home advantage for the play-offs with a 54-13 win at home to Edinburgh last weekend, Joe Schmidt’s men travel to Belfast with one eye on their upcoming Heineken Cup semi-final against Clermont Auvergne.
Centre Gordon D’Arcy will be available for selection this weekend. D’Arcy was substituted late on against Edinburgh and required five stitches to close a cut above his right eye.
Eoin O’Malley (calf) and Jamie Hagan (ribs) are both fit again following recent injuries, but scrum-half John Cooney remains sidelined while his broken jaw heals.
Speaking at today’s media briefing, coach Jono Gibbes said that the squad’s strength and depth was a key asset as they continue to challenge for silverware on two fronts.
“I think the pleasing thing about Friday night was that we did make those rotations, but our momentum was continued — the momentum of things we’re trying to improve on as a squad for the last three or four weeks.
“We had patches of it in the Cardiff game; that was pleasing. We made changes again for the Edinburgh game and saw there was still a bit of a progression again.
I think the spin-off from a selection point of view was some of those guys individually put pressure on us and it’s not necessarily a clear 23 [players in the matchday squad]. It’s good for them, it’s a bit of a headache for the coaches.
What we’ll see this week is a mix of looking after guys’ game time and making sure that we balance having guys match-fit and fresh for a big couple of weeks, and also a little bit of a reward for some guys who have put in a bit of work — some on the field and some at training.
– Additional reporting by Sean Farrell