Wednesday 19 December 2018

Double blow stings Blues

Leinster lose Heaslip and Kearney to injury for Wasps quarter-final
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen is hopeful Jack Conan will be fit for the Champions Cup clash
next weekend. Pic: Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen is hopeful Jack Conan will be fit for the Champions Cup clash next weekend. Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster coach Leo Cullen was the bearer of bad news yesterday as Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney have been ruled out of the Champions Cup quarter-final against Wasps next week.

In fact, the chances of either making a semi-final are remote.

"It's hard to be definitive with timelines," said Cullen.

"Jamie just had a procedure done with his back this morning. He had a disc issue, so they come on quite quickly.

"He saw a specialist, saw someone again yesterday (Thursday) and had a procedure done this morning (Friday).

"That rules him out for the next number of weeks."

There was slightly more certainty over Kearney's condition.

"He had seen a few different people, had a procedure during the week after seeing a specialist on Tuesday, I think.

"That's probably four-six weeks for his knee, so we'll see how he comes through that."

What Cullen touted as the first surgery of Heaslip's career has opened the way for Jack Conan to stand in the gap, even burst through it, in what will be the biggest club game of his career.

This is presuming what Cullen described as "a tightness in his calf" clears up in time.

In the meantime, Rhys Ruddock will wear number eight against Cardiff Blues this afternoon flanked by Dan Leavy and fit-again Josh van der Flier.

It would seem the full-back question has already been answered by the retention of Joey Carbery there.

"We'll see how it goes. It's hard to plan too far ahead," added the coach.

"It's so tight at the top of the league. We're very much focused on Cardiff and the threats that they have."

Ross Byrne will man the controls at fly-half until Jonathan Sexton returns to provincial duty.

"He took a couple of bangs during the game against England, a couple of late hits," noted Cullen, about Ireland's playmaker.

"He was in and around getting treated and he's good to go, hopefully, for the start of next week."

Cullen tried to steer the attention back towards the Pro12 without making a convincing case.

"The main focus has been on Cardiff, with some of the internationals coming back in, giving them a sense of what to expect with Wasps.

"We're well versed in terms of what to expect after suffering two pretty heavy defeats last year.

"This week, it's very much about Cardiff, the threats they'll pose."

Leinster: J Carbery; A Byrne; R O'Loughlin, N Reid, I Nacewa (capt); R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, R Strauss, M Bent, R Molony, H Triggs, D Leavy, J van der Flier, R Ruddock.

Cardiff: M Morgan; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, S Shingler, B Scully (capt); G Anscombe, T Williams; C Domachowski, K Dacey, A Peikrishvili, G Earle, J Hoeata, M Cook, J Navidi, N Williams.

Verdict: Leinster.

PRO12: Leinster v Cardiff Blues (sky sports 2, Ko 3.0)

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