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Monday 5 December 2016

Conan and Nagle may miss Bath

Jack Conan. Pic: Sportsfile
Jack Conan. Pic: Sportsfile

You would like to think Leo Cullen knows the intended make-up of his first fifteen for the opening round of the PRO12 League on the first Friday in September.

He may have to revise it after Jack Conan (jarred ankle) and Ian Nagle (hyper-extended elbow), two likely starters, sustained injuries in the 26-24 victory over Gloucester at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday.

These two will be probably outside the wire for the last pre-season hit out against Bath on Friday night.

Conan looked in tremendous nick in his role as captain with Nagle taking more than one huge hit as he took control of the Leinster lineout.

"He's got a good head on him. We're trying to develop him as a leader," said scrum coach John Fogarty about Conan.

"He's quite important to the group. It's exciting to have him back. Let's hope he can get through the majority of the season without picking up something."

Nagle was a prominent presence on his reintroduction to professional rugby.

"It is good to see him come back from the wilderness, as it was," added Fogarty.

"He's looking really, really good in his pre-season stuff.

"He controlled that lineout very well and he offers a lot of energy around the field."

The decision over which of Cathal Marsh, Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne will be elected in the number ten shirt will be one of intense interest.

Marsh has the experience from last season. Carbery has the championship winning reputation from the All-Ireland League and Byrne has the pedigree as a two-year Ireland U20 flnally clear of injury.

Fogarty was not in the mood to give anything away.

"I figure we need to see our fifteen before Treviso, for sure," he said.

For the record, Leinster were more than a touch fortunate to find the lead from three first-half tries from wing Adam Byrne and a brace by scrum-half Nick McCarthy.

They were not able to find the front-foot through physicality against a hard-up Cherry & White defence.

Ironically, their improvements the second-half were not reflected on the scoreboard as they just about held out for a two-point win by virtue of Rory O'Loughlin's finish.

The return of Ireland's frontline internationals will be staggered based on the individual programmes they are on.

Leinster 26 Gloucester 24

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