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Monday 24 July 2017

Joey is now a leader says Stuart

Henshaw and Kearney cleared to train ahead of Saints clash

Joey Carbery. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Joey Carbery. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Rob Kearney in action during Leinster squad training in Belfield. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Just as Pat Lam confirmed his departure to Bristol, Stuart Lancaster signalled his preference to extend his contract at Leinster.

"I'm keen to continue on what I am doing here, yeah," said the ex-England coach.

"We will see how it plays out. We have yet to have those conversations."

The former England coach went a step further in clarifying his position in regard to a link with Bristol.

"Just to clarify, I have never had one conversation with anyone from Bristol at all."

The barometer for Lancaster's impact at Leinster will be measured in Europe.

"For me, the focus is just about the here and now, getting this team ready to play Northampton on Friday."

In that regard, Lancaster has backed Joey Carbery to take up the reins loosened by Jonathan Sexton being likely to sit this one out.

Transformation

"My energy this week is to help Joey to continue to grow," he said. "This is a guy who was not long ago the quiet guy in the room who is now a leader in the room.

"It is an incredible transformation for a young player to do that and he reminds me a lot of the young English fly-halfs I coached, George Ford and Andy Farrell.

"They have the same sort of leadership traits."

Rob Kearney and Robbie Henshaw were set to take part in training yesterday after dealing with their return-to-play protocols.

The picture is not as transparent about the prospects of Sean O'Brien (hip flexor), Michael Bent (calf strain), Dominic Ryan (calf strain) and Noel Reid (foot), the back-up option to Henshaw.

Flanker Rhys Ruddock reported no adverse reaction to his return from his calf injury.

At the moment, Leinster lead Pool Four by one point with the possibility that they could be bottom by the end of round three if they come unstuck in the East Midlands.

"Whether you are playing Montpellier, Castres or Northampton, you are playing against a champion team with champion players," he said.

Lancaster is in a unique position to provide the edge in inside information about the spine of The Saints'.

"I know the majority of the Northampton players. Even if they haven't played international rugby, they have been (English) Saxons players. I am looking at people like Alex Waller or Mike Patterson or Stephen Myler.

"I know these guys probably as well as I know Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley or Courtney Lawes or Luther Burrell."

The genuine good guy of English rugby was quick to water down his central role on Friday night.

"The last thing it is, is about me," he stressed. "It is about Leinster and me getting the players ready to perform."

There has been enough recent history these two clubs to capture the imagination of the rugby public on both sides of the Irish sea.

"My mind gets drawn back watching the Leinster-Northampton matches as England coach.

"There was an unbelievable Leinster performance at Franklin's Gardens and Northampton beating Leinster at The Aviva.

"Also, there was a European Cup final, not too long ago, where Northampton were beating Leinster and Leinster came back and won it.

"There is a lot of history between the two teams."

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