Leinster wait on O'Malley and Kearney
Rugby - team news:Despite their depleted resources, Leinster forward coach Jonno Gibbes has declared the side good to go as the defending champions face into a Heineken Cup double header that is likely to define their season. Leinster travel to the Stade Marcel Michelin next Sunday for the first a back-to-back meetings with Clermont without a raft of frontliners.
Given the strength of the opposition Gibbes conceding the occasion will be “bloody intimidating” but insists the visitors will not be overawed by the occasion. "I think round three has become very important for us,” Gibbes said today. “I think our preparation has to reflect the importance of the game and the size of the opposition. The quality they’ve got, the depth they have, the support they have.”
The good news for Leinster is that the players came through Saturday’s Pro12 warm-up against Zebre without any fresh injury concerns while Eoin O’Malley and Dave Kearney could also come back into the picture. "Brian (O’Driscoll), Rob (Kearney), Qinn (Roux) and Luke (Fitzgerald), nothing has changed there,” Gibbes said of the long-term casualty list.
“There are just two guys that we are going to monitor this week. They'll have a slower start - Eoin O'Malley and Dave Kearney. We're giving them a little bit more time to see where they are later in the week. Other than that everyone's good to go.”
Ulsterskipper Johann Muller believes Friday night’s clash against Northampton Saints in Franklin’s Gardens could be a matter of "winner takes all".
"It is probably one of those games," he said. "We played them there two years ago and we came up short, well short. They are a great side, they are a fantastic first phase side and have a fantastic back three that can finish tries from all over the show. There is a huge amount of hard work left and all of us knows that. We know there is a lot to be done this week to go into Friday night.”
Ulster know they'll have to up their game after narrow wins in Italy against Zebre and Treviso, followed by a patchy performance in the 19-12 win over Scarlets yesterday.
“We know that in the last three or four weeks we haven’t played to where we want to and to the ability that we are capable of. But in saying that you have got to take another away win. Scarlets are second in the league, they are a quality side and beat Munster away from home last week and to go to their home ground and get a victory was always going to be a great result.”