O'Driscoll the biggest concern for London
RUGBY NEWS:LEINSTER FACE an anxious few days as they assess their quintet of walking wounded in the build-up to Saturday’s Heineken Cup final against Ulster.
The unfortunate Eoin O’Malley looks sure to miss out, and while the likelihood remains that their four front-line Irish internationals will make the kick-off at Twickenham, Brian O’Driscoll is the biggest concern.
Already fretting over O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney, each of whom were ruled out of Saturday’s RaboDirect Pro 12 semi-final, Gordon D’Arcy, O’Malley and Cian Healy were all casualties of the 19-15 win over a gritty Glasgow at the RDS on Saturday night. All of which is compounded by a scheduling which gives Leinster a seven-day turnaround.
“Eoin doesn’t look too good to be honest,” admitted Schmidt afterwards. “He’s had a pretty rough knock on the knee so he’s going off to get scanned.”
Schmidt was comparatively optimistic regarding D’Arcy, who was led groggily from the field after a collision with Brad Thorn’s knee which required stitching around his left eye.
“I’d say after 12 years of rugby it’s stitching on top of stitching,” joked Schmidt. “It’s just a case of the eye closing over a little bit and depth perception becomes a little bit blurred so we just thought we were better off to look after him for next week.”
There was even less concern over Healy’s twisted ankle. “He was walking fine by the time he got to the sideline so it was as much precautionary as anything. He might have a little bit of inflammation around the ankle, but that’s it.”
Schmidt also admitted that Kearney could possibly have played despite the back problem that has been troubling him of late.
“He is in pretty good shape and we would be confident that he will be alright for Saturday.”
However, O’Driscoll’s knee injury will be monitored with an understandable degree of concern, even if this is offset by the player’s often phenomenal powers of recovery and desire.
“We are just going to give him a rest for the next couple of days and hopefully he will be up fully and running by Thursday. He is one of the most resilient men I have met and one of the most competitive people I know. He will want to be there.”
That the league organisers fixed this game for Saturday rather than Friday, as they had done a year ago, frustrated Schmidt, all the more so as Ulster have been resting up and lurking in the Portuguese long grass.
“It just means at best it will compromise our first training of the week.
“At worst it will mean we’ll only get one [good] training done in the week and a couple of guys we’re waiting on, who are touch and go, might not make the game next weekend.
“That’s obviously disappointing for them and disappointing for us because I’m pretty sure they want people to be competitive on two fronts and I know that having come from a French system they often pick and choose and they say ‘we’ll flag this and go for that competition’.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not what they [Pro12] want to happen and it would’ve been great if we had the extra day.”