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Friday 15 December 2017

Sexton well on the mend again

Head coach Leo Cullen at St Mary’s College for a media event ahead of Leinster’s match against Gloucester at Templeville Road on Friday night
Head coach Leo Cullen at St Mary’s College for a media event ahead of Leinster’s match against Gloucester at Templeville Road on Friday night

Coach Leo Cullen has reassured the Leinster public that Jonathan Sexton's wrist injury "is not a showstopper."

The out-half is close to being back available to train now that he is out of a splint.

Fellow British & Irish Lion Robbie Henshaw is on course to make round five or six of the PRO14 League as the centre works his way back from an operation to his pectoral muscle.

Ireland's Rob Kearney could make his return from injury in Leinster's second pre-season match at home to Gloucester at Templeville Road on Friday night.

The experienced full-back was able to have repair work done to his knee and bicep at the end of last season.

There are a host of other internationals closing in on their return to play dates.

Training

His brother Dave has to come through training this afternoon at UCD to convince Cullen he is ready for The Cherry and Whites.

Hooker Sean Cronin will set his sights on Bath in Leinster's final pre-season hit out next weekend.

Garry Ringrose's recuperation from shoulder surgery is a more complicated healing process.

As of yet, there is no definitive timeline on his journey to match fitness.

Number eight Jamie Heaslip "is not a million miles away," according to Cullen, as he also makes the move from the surgeon's table to the field of play. Utility back Joey Carbery will be back sooner rather than later from his ankle injury.

In terms of the overseas signings, Scott Fardy is settling in well in the aftermath of his highly impressive Super Rugby season for the ACT Brumbies.

The hard-nosed experience of Fardy will be another source of information for second rows James Ryan and Ross Molony.

During the summer, Ryan joined Brian O'Driscoll in making his Ireland debut before he played for his club.

"Yeah, James is obviously someone who missed a big chunk of last season with an injury," said Cullen.

"He is someone who was earmarked since he was 16, probably. He has come through the system.

"He works hard. He has a good mental attitude on top of that.

"I am looking forward to seeing him playing," issued Cullen.

"He is raring to go. He is training well, at the moment.

"He has integrated into the programme and will be involved in the next few weeks."

The same goes for physically gifted Andrew Porter as he continues to find his feet in transitioning from loose-head to the tight side.

New Zealander James Lowe will remain at home until Tasman Makos end their interest in the ITM Cup.

Unfortunately, the newly formed PRO14 will be poorer for the drip feed of the Irish internationals back to the Blues.

Leinster will bid to become the first Irish province to win on South Africa soil in rounds three and four of the League.

They will travel to and prepare for the Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs over twelve days next month.

The sad reality is that the South African clubs will not get to sell the new competition as well as they should be able to, as Leinster will not have too many of their marquee names with them on the plane.

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