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Cullen: It's fantastic to be back

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BACK IN ACTION: James Ryan at Leinster squad training in UCD. Photo: Sportsfile

BACK IN ACTION: James Ryan at Leinster squad training in UCD. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

BACK IN ACTION: James Ryan at Leinster squad training in UCD. Photo: Sportsfile

There was a giddy excitement around UCD today as Leo Cullen welcomed back his Leinster squad for their first day of training. Like Munster, Leinster were allowed to return to limited training, having passed their Covid-19 tests.

Groups of seven players were put through their paces in Limerick and Dublin, as both provinces began their preparations ahead of a mouthwatering derby clash on August 22.

Leinster and Ireland captain Johnny Sexton was amongst the large group of returning players, while so too was Cian Healy.

Healy suffered a hip injury during Ireland's last outing against England, but the sight of him running on the training paddock was a further boost to Cullen.

"It was great to see some of the faces coming in today," the Leinster head coach said. "Guys seem to have turned up in very good condition. We'll see what the numbers tell us.

"It's fantastic to be back. Everyone has had their challenges over the recent months. It feels like we are getting a little bit closer, which is a positive."

Carbery blow

Joey Carbery is set to miss further game time, as Munster revealed that the out-half is still rehabbing his wrist/ankle injuries and is not due back until September. Carbery has endured a nightmare spell since picking up an ankle injury last August in the build-up to the World Cup.

Munster had hoped that the 24-year-old would have been fit in time for the start of pre-season, but it has now been decided to give him extra time to recover.

It means that Johann van Graan will be forced to continue to plan without his key man for another couple of games at least.

Munster are due to play Leinster at the Aviva Stadium on August 22 as the PRO14 looks to resume, but Carbery will not be involved against his former team.