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Thursday 20 September 2018

Return of Mac big Leo Boost

McGrath back from knee injury to bolster options for Leinster

BOOST: Luke McGrath’s return offers coach Leo Cullen plenty of choice. Pic: Sportsfile
BOOST: Luke McGrath’s return offers coach Leo Cullen plenty of choice. Pic: Sportsfile

Ireland's Luke McGrath has recovered from a knee injury to take his place for Leinster against Ospreys in the PRO14 League this evening.

This will come as an important boost which will allow coach Leo Cullen the elbow room to select the two non-European players of his choice for the Champions Cup quarter-final squad rather than being backed into a corner.

There are a number of Ireland Grand Slam contributors back in the fold as Joey Carbery starts at full-back, Fergus McFadden on the right wing, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter in the front row and Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan in the back row.

It is difficult to know how many of this fifteen will start against Saracens with scrum-half McGrath, second row Scott Fardy and number eight Conan looking clear cut.

The versatile Jordi Murphy is a strong candidate and left wing Barry Daly could do wonders for his case with a strong showing, given the doubts surrounding Jordan Larmour.

Back to more immediate matters, Leinster have three points to spare over Scarlets at the summit of Conference B as it stands.

They could conceivably plot a path to the League final without having to leave Dublin.

That scenario is within their control as long as they manage to keep a grip on the number one seed.

But Ospreys will be no walkover as Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar are among those returning from the Six Nations.

"Their presence in training this week has given everyone a real boost" said interim coach Allen Clarke, the former Ulster hooker.

"They are coming in off the back of what was, ultimately, a successful Six Nations, and they are bringing that buzz with them. The energy they've brought to training has been excellent.

"That's rubbing off and, collectively, there has been a really positive energy about the place.

"Everybody is excited about the challenges we have coming up, starting with Leinster."

Ospreys: D Evans; J Hassler, K Fonotia, A Beck, H Dirksen; D Biggar, T Habberfield; N Smith, S Otten, D Arhip, B Davies, AW jones (capt), O Cracknell, J Tipuric, S Cross. Replacements: I Phillips, R Jones, M Fia, A Beard, M McCusker; M Aubrey, S Davies, O Watkin.

Leinster: J Carbery; F McFadden, R O'Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; R Byrne, L McGrath; J McGrath, S Cronin, A Porter, R Molony, S Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, J Conan. Replacements: J Tracy, E Byrne, M Bent, I Nagle, M Deegan; J Gibson-Park, D Kearney, A Byrne.

Verdict: Leinster.

  • PRO14 League Ospreys v Leinster Tonight (KO 7.35, Live S4C)

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