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Monday 11 December 2017

Blues close in on All Black Thorn

ASSISTANT coach Richie Murphy has confirmed that Leinster "are close to finalising a deal" to bring All Black Brad Thorn to the club on a short-term contract.

Interim captain Kevin McLaughlin was quick to support the decision to make 37-year-old Thorn the solution to Leinster's second-row crisis.

"It is really exciting. Getting a specialist second row in who has won the World Cup and has done everything there is to do in rugby is a huge lift for the squad," said McLaughlin.

Club captain Leo Cullen has undergone surgery on his Achilles tendon, while injury-plagued Steven Sykes had his contract cut short and has returned to South Africa.

In addition, second row Damian Browne has been carrying an injury for some time. He will be assessed after a minor knock to his shoulder against Treviso last Thursday.

There is no certainty that Browne will be available for selection against the Scarlets in the PRO12 League at the RDS on Friday night.

Devin Toner and Mark Flanagan are the next two in line for work on Friday, with McLaughlin stationed as the utility forward capable of moving from the back row to middle row.

There are rumours that Donnacha Ryan is interested in making a switch from Munster but this seems unlikely now that he has won his place in the Munster second row ahead of Donncha O'Callaghan.

Leinster will be able to call on the services of Ireland internationals Fergus McFadden, Eoin O'Malley, Sean Cronin, Shane Jennings, Dave Kearney and Eoin Reddan.

The Irish management has decided to release all but the 15 selected to start against France in the Six Nations last Saturday back to their clubs so that they can benefit from game time.

Ireland back Luke Fitzgerald has still not been medically cleared to play for Leinster.

"It is one of those injuries that you can't rush back," said Murphy. "If he goes back early, he will end up being out for a lot longer. He will be well back by then (Heineken Cup quarter-final). He should probably be back playing the week after this."

Fitzgerald and wing Andrew Conway will complete a 10-day conditioning programme in preparation for a runout in the fixture in Glasgow.

Wing Fionn Carr (eye cut) and flanker Dominic Ryan (calf strain) are expected to be in contention.

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