Connacht await fitness report on key players ahead of Leinster tie

Ulster set to announce three-month contract for Stephen Ferris

Connacht head coach Pat Lam: has some players returning from injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Connacht head coach Pat Lam: has some players returning from injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Thu, Jan 2, 2014, 01:00


Connacht coach Pat Lam is hopeful that fullback Gavin Duffy, who last weekend left the field during the second half at Thomond Park with a shoulder injury, will recover in time for Saturday’s derby against Leinster.

Duffy is one of several players who picked up knocks against Munster, with scrumhalf Frank Murphy suffering a concussion. The Cork man has been ruled out of action for this week’s game.

Medical staff will also continue to monitor the recovery of 21-year-old flanker Jake Heenan, who has a shoulder injury. Lam, however, also has some key players returning from sick bay with forwards Michael Swift, Sean Henry and Ronan Loughney all training this week.

Outhalf Craig Ronaldson (hamstring) faces at least another two weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem while centre Dave McSharry’s ankle injury ensures he will be out of action until the end of the month.

There is some optimism in Ulster as the province is expected to announce a three-month contract for Stephen Ferris, which would give the popular Ravenhill figure a realistic chance to prove his fitness.

The highly-regarded international has been unavailable due to injury since November 2012 but has been making progress on his ankle injury since an operation in the summer. Ulster also expect that their captain, Johann Muller, Irish international backrow Chris Henry, John Afoa and Nick Williams will be all set to face Munster in a sold-out Ravenhill on Friday. It is also expected that forward Iain Henderson will return.

Henry’s return should please Irish coach Joe Schmidt as he considers the make-up of his backrow for the Six Nations Championship after the injury to Sean O’Brien’s shoulder.

Rabo Pro 12

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 20 15 1 4 517 319 12 74
Ulster 20 14 0 6 431 270 9 65
Glasgow 19 15 0 4 355 259 4 64
Munster 19 14 0 5 434 285 7 63
Ospreys 19 11 1 7 479 328 10 56
Scarlets 19 9 1 9 361 383 7 45
Edinburgh 18 7 0 11 325 393 7 35
Connacht 19 6 0 13 313 410 10 34
Cardiff 19 6 1 12 371 483 7 33
Dragons 19 6 1 12 339 419 5 31
Treviso 20 5 1 14 341 533 7 29
Zebre 19 3 2 14 291 465 5 21

Pool One

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 6 5 0 1 152 66 2 22
Northampton 6 4 0 2 107 104 1 17
Castres 6 2 0 4 78 104 1 9
Ospreys 6 1 0 5 75 138 1 5

Pool Two

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulon 6 5 0 1 170 104 4 24
Cardiff 6 3 0 3 119 148 2 14
Exeter 6 2 0 4 118 123 4 12
Glasgow 6 2 0 4 98 130 3 11

Pool Three

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulouse 6 5 0 1 143 63 3 23
Saracens 6 4 0 2 217 74 4 20
Connacht 6 3 0 3 101 147 1 13
Zebre 6 0 0 6 33 210 0 0

Pool Four

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Clermont 6 5 0 1 139 69 4 24
Harlequins 6 3 0 3 126 103 4 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 122 150 1 11
Racing Metro 6 1 1 4 66 131 1 7

Pool Five

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Ulster 6 6 0 0 179 62 2 26
Leicester 6 4 0 2 159 112 5 21
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 121 124 3 11
Treviso 6 0 0 6 41 202 0 0

Pool Six

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 161 77 3 23
Gloucester 6 3 0 3 113 114 2 14
Edinburgh 6 3 0 3 104 141 0 12
Perpignan 6 1 0 5 112 158 3 7