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Leavy primed for return after horror injury

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Dan Leavy during a Leinster Rugby gym session. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Dan Leavy during a Leinster Rugby gym session. Photo: SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Dan Leavy during a Leinster Rugby gym session. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Dan Leavy will be able to make a remarkable comeback from the horrific knee injury he suffered 12 months ago when rugby returns.

According to Leinster Head of Operations Guy Easterby, the Ireland flanker is near the end of his recovery period after suffering the devastating blow in last season's Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final win over Ulster.

Speaking at a Leinster media briefing held via video-conference, Easterby paid tribute to those working on the frontline - mentioning in particular the members of the province's medical team who are involved in the battle against Covid-19.

And, while he made it clear that rugby remains a small part of the picture right now, Easterby confirmed the provinces are currently operating on a "soft plan" of a May 15 return to training, but conceded that nothing is being ruled in or out at this stage as officials wait for guidance.

When it does happen, Leavy should be ready.

"Dan's done an unbelievable job along with Karl Denver, who has been the physio doing his rehabilitation," Easterby said.

"They've done a fantastic job as a team together and I'm sure they're missing each other. I know they're video-calling quite a lot to look into each other's eyes!

"Dan was very much at the end of that process, he was very close to the end. Dan's bits now are the small percentages as opposed to the really big work.

"A lot of that he can do on his own. It's not like he hasn't gone through the processes in terms of a weekly schedule. Committing like he has throughout the whole process, he's been fantastic. It was obviously a very significant injury.

"He isn't a million miles away and I think it's just the final pieces, building up his strength a bit more.

"He's getting the running under his belt and he's not getting a bad reaction, so I'd say it's very positive and I would expect when we can get back up and playing, it's more than likely he's going to be available at that time."

Leinster also issued injury news on a host of players. Jack Conan is fit again after the foot problem he suffered at the World Cup, as are Rory O'Loughlin and Ed Byrne. But Garry Ringrose (hand), Cian Healy (hip), Vakh Abdaladze (back) and Conor O'Brien (hamstring) are all still at various phases of recovery.

On a return to action, Easterby said: "I've got to give credit to PRO14 and the IRFU in terms of working around possible plans in terms of starting dates but there is so much uncertainty as to when we might be able to get up and running again.

"The plan at the moment is a return to some sort of collective training around mid-May but, again, that's something that might change from day to day never mind week to week.

"That is everybody coming in again en masse and listening to Simon Harris last night, he was saying that the social distancing piece isn't just going to disappear when the current lockdown restrictions are lifted."