Wednesday 17 January 2018

Cullen calls in the cavalry

Leinster woe as Kearney is sidelined for five weeks

Leinster's Joey Carbery Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster's Joey Carbery Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

It has been confirmed Rob Kearney has suffered a grade two posterior cruciate ligament strain that could take up to five weeks, or even beyond, to rehabilitate.

His participation in the first round of the Champions Cup is open to question.

The selection of Zane Kirchner at full-back is surely being made with one eye on the weeks ahead.

The roller-coaster ride that is the PRO12 League moves on with Leinster's visit to Edinburgh this evening.


Coach Leo Cullen has resisted the temptation to move Joey Carbery to full-back, where he played half of last season for Clontarf as a devastating counter-attacker.

Instead, the Athy man will be rightly tasked with putting his fine rugby brain to use as Leinster hunt a second win from three rounds.

All the in-camp chat about Leinster having three quality back-ups to Jonathan Sexton in Carbery, Cathal Marsh and Ross Byrne is true.

But Carbery's immaculate impact against Benetton Treviso and sublime 52 minutes in Glasgow must have convinced Cullen the number ten shirt is his to lose, at the moment.

Club captain Isa Nacewa will make his first PRO12 appearance of the season from right wing. The same goes for sharp passing scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park.

The forward pack will be upholstered with Ireland internationals Jack McGrath, Seán Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner and Jamie Heaslip.

"Yeah, all those guys are coming back into it. The timing of it is good. There are a lot of forwards there," said scrum coach John Fogarty.

"Edinburgh are a very physical team and we went over there last year and got bashed a little bit, so their returns are important."

The retention of Dan Leavy at openside is a vote of confidence as the former Ireland U20 continues to show his worth as a genuine first-team talent.

Edinburgh will be keen to make it two wins out of three too.

Tongan internationalist Viliami Fihaki will make his competitive debut for the club at number eight in a mouth-watering face-off with Heaslip.

Hamish Watson replaces openside John Hardie who continues his graduated return-to-play protocol following concussion.

They bounced back from defeat at Cardiff Blues (34-16) at home to Scarlets (20-9) last Friday, thus having one more recovery day than Leinster.

"It was good to get the win under our belt last week," said coach Alan Solomons.

"We know we need to build on that, but appreciate that we will have to be at our best against a powerful Leinster outfit."

Edinburgh: G Bryce; M Allen, S Tofilau, P Burleigh, T Brown; D Weir, N Fowles; R Sutherland, R Ford, WP Nel, B Toolis, G Gilchrist (capt), M Bradbury, H Watson, V Fihaki.

Leinster: Z Kirchner; I Nacewa (capt), G Ringrose, N Reid, D Kearney; J Carbery, J Gibson-Park; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, J Murphy, D Leavy, J Heaslip.

Verdict: Leinster

Pro12: Edinburgh v Leinster, Murrayfield, Tonight (KO 7.35) TG4

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