herald

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Henshaw in the running

McGrath and Conan to train today

ALMOST READY: Robbie Henshaw on the
pitch before the Leinster match against
Treviso last Saturday Pic: Sportsfile
ALMOST READY: Robbie Henshaw on the pitch before the Leinster match against Treviso last Saturday Pic: Sportsfile

If Leo Cullen was offered the choice between Leinster asserting their dominance over Benetton Treviso last Saturday and having Robbie Henshaw, Jack Conan and Luke McGrath for the Champions Cup semi-final next Saturday, there would be no choice to make.

He would even take just Henshaw and McGrath over four or five points for - now that Saracens have been downed - what is their most important match of the season.

It would take just one more upset by The Scarlets over the home province, on top of the PRO14 League semi-final at The RDS last season, to define the Welsh club as their nemesis.

The Leinster players are shaping up like pieces on a chess board ,with Leo Cullen not quite sure which will be where at the moment.

Henshaw's availability would allow captain Isa Nacewa to return to the wing and McGrath's recovery would allow James Lowe to slot in on the other flank.

For the record, Henshaw, Conan and McGrath are scheduled to partake in training this afternoon.

The news is not as positive about Rhys Ruddock's hamstring which will require at least one more week of rehabilitation.

Cullen was slow to commit any significance to the withdrawal of Seán O'Brien after just 40 minutes against Treviso.

"Yeah, we're just trying to manage Sean coming back," he admitted.

"He's a little bit sore around his shoulder, so we just wanted to manage him.

"The aim was to get through 40, see how he was at half time and really make a call at that stage and that's what we did."

It looks highly unlikely O'Brien will be involved on Saturday, making Conan's possible return even more valuable.

partnership

The renewal of the Henshaw-Garry Ringrose partnership would be a shot in the arm for Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.

The degree of physicality put forward by Henshaw is the perfect antidote to that of Wales dynamic duo Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes.

Cullen was unwilling to confirm the extent of the preparation already pocketed for Scarlets.

"It's more about the conversations that you have with some of the individuals who will come back in next week.

"We want to be involved in European semi-finals. There were painful lessons in the semi-finals for us last year.

"We're back at this stage, the players have worked incredibly hard if you think back to this time last year where it was a real feeling of almost getting there but it wasn't good enough."

Leinster have improved. So too have Scarlets.

What will be different this time around?

"We've been through it now," Cullen said.

"We're very clear about the plan in our minds going into the game.

"We know what potentially gets us into trouble against the Scarlets. And we know, if we get certain things right, like we did against Saracens, we can produce good moments in games.

"It's about trying to focus on what makes this game tick."

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