Saturday 20 October 2018

O'Brien back for Blues against Ulster

Leinster’s Seán O’Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Seán O’Brien. Photo: Sportsfile

Seán O'Brien has been cleared to return from a calf injury ahead of the interprovincial derby against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday evening (KO 6.30).

It is just as well as his stellar stand-in Josh van der Flier has had to withdraw with an ankle injury.

In addition, Dan Leavy has overcome a frustrating period to contest for a place in the back row.

O'Brien will be joined by hooker Richardt Strauss, back from a knee problem.

There is also every chance Rob Kearney will make his reintroduction from yet another hamstring issue.

The Ireland full-back has endured a tortuous time with hamstring/lower back injuries in addition to the significant mater of a torn bicep.

He returned to training with the squad last week and was one of four extras to travel to Glasgow with O'Brien, Jordi Murphy and Andrew Porter.

Left wing Barry Daly will have his fine run of games halted by an ankle injury, which played a part in his removal just after half-time in Glasgow.

Again, the timing could be far worse for coach Leo Cullen as Rory O'Loughlin is scheduled to train this week.

It will be interesting to note how Cullen rotates his squad with Ireland internationals O'Brien, Leavy and Kearney desperately in need of game time.

Meanwhile, scrum coach John Fogarty has warned about going to Belfast to tackle a wounded beast after Ulster fell prey to La Rochelle in France.

"We missed out last year," he said.

"We went up there not prepared mentally and we didn't come out with anything.

"Later in the week, we need to make sure we arrive ready for a battle."

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