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Saturday 25 November 2017

Miracle Man Heaslip could make it back for PRO12 final

Jamie Heaslip could be making his way back for Leinster. Pic: Sportsfile
Jamie Heaslip could be making his way back for Leinster. Pic: Sportsfile

Jamie Heaslip has not been ruled out of a leading role for club and country over the next two months.

Disc

The number eight will need all the boxes to be ticked in his favour to make it back for the PRO12 final, should Leinster make it that far, after surgery on a disc in his back.

His miraculous powers of recovery have been well-documented.

Apparently, Heaslip was operated on back on March 24 and given a 10-12 week estimation for recovery.

The PRO12 final will take place nine weeks and one day after his surgery and would put real strain on regaining full fitness.

"From what I hear, we get these updates week-to-week, it needs to go pretty well," said Leinster assistant coach John Fogarty.

"It needs to go perfectly for him to make sure he's back."

There is also the bullocking presence of Jack Conan to consider, a revelation against Clermont-Auvergne in Lyon.

Heaslip's competitive instinct has never been in doubt and the man who is all about winning won't want to give up on a medal that eluded Leinster last May.

"You build in the length of time he's been away, a PRO12 final is pretty intense," said Fogarty.

"There's a lot of pressure involved in the game, the opposition is right up there in terms of who they are.

"It's almost international standard," he continued.

"It's so important that Jamie goes well in his return and, also, we need to make a decision based on the amount of game time that he's had and that's something that will be considered as well.

"Hopefully Jamie, with the experience he has and the quality of player he is, he returns back, because he's such a big leader for us also."

Even then, Conan will not be for moving and he has embraced the greater responsibility that has come with the big games.

The omission of Heaslip has heightened expectation and the 24-year-old has delivered with a barnstorming season, playing out 80 minutes in nine of his last ten appearances.

Of course, Heaslip will be the natural successor to Rory Best to captain Ireland in the United States and Japan next month.

The two-time British & Irish Lion may just use the PRO12 final as a yardstick to make sure he will be ready for the tour.

Flanker Seán O'Brien is entering into full training this week to test out the resilience of his hamstring from the minor strain suffered in the lead up to the Champions Cup semi-final.

Fellow British & Irish Lion Robbie Henshaw is close to being back from a rib injury and has not been ruled out of Leinster's last regular season match against Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

Hooker Seán Cronin will be assessed later in the week from a neck injury sustained in Lyon.

It looks likely Dominic Ryan has played his last game for the province.

The flanker was the unfortunate victim of a bicep injury straight after his first try of the season on his 113th appearance.

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