Lote Tuqiri and Andrew Goodman could return for Leinster
Zane Kirchner set to start his first game for the Irish province on Friday in Rodney Parade
Leinster’s Andrew Goodman: set to make his seasonal bow. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor could be forgiven if he indulged in a quick headcount to establish if he had enough players for Friday night’s RaboDirect Pro 12 game against the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade (7.05) in training this week.
Injuries and Ireland squad commitments will mean that the Australian will have to lean heavily on a number of the A squad that has made an impressive start to the British & Irish Cup.
It’s not all gloom and doom. Shane Jennings came through the victory over Connacht without any adverse reaction to a recent hand injury while Lote Tuqiri (hamstring) could be about to bring an end to a frustrating time on the sidelines. Andrew Goodman, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon, in pre-season training, may be ready for his seasonal bow.
Springbok Zane Kirchner, who made his Leinster debut as a replacement in the victory over Connacht, is likely to be handed a starting role. His presence with the province will be fleeting for the time being as he has been included in a 32-man South Africa squad for their November tests.
Tighthead prop Martin Moore was called up to Ireland training camp, and while he’s likely to be released to play in Wales, O’Connor and his coaching team must decide on how his absence during the week impacts on preparing for Friday.
O’Connor admitted: “It was a tough, physical game on Saturday night but we were pleased to get the win which I thought our efforts deserved overall. There are obviously a few bumps and bruises as you’d expect, but overall we’re in pretty good shape for the game in Newport which will pose a big challenge for us.
“We are down a few bodies this week because of Ireland commitments, but that will present an opportunity for a number of players who have been itching for game time in recent weeks.
“We’re delighted to have the likes of Jenno [Shane Jennings] and Zane [Kirchner] back in the frame because we’re going to need a few experienced heads over in Newport in a ground which has traditionally been a difficult place for Leinster to go to and win.
‘Frustrating few weeks’
“The prognosis on Lote [Tuqiri] is good after his hamstring injury and we’re confident that he’ll be available for selection after what has been a frustrating few weeks for him.
“The Dragons will be determined to get back to winning ways after their defeat to the Ospreys and they are a side who have progressed this year. They have recruited well through the likes of Kris Burton and they also have some emerging indigenous talent.
“Andrew Coombs is an impressive leader for them up front, Dan Evans is an attacking threat out wide and under Lyn Jones they have brought a more expansive approach to their play this year. They freshened things up last weekend against the Ospreys and they could make a few more changes which is a signal of their depth.”
Meanwhile Leinster have sold 24,000 tickets to date for their Heineken Cup match against the Northampton Saints at the Aviva stadium on Saturday, December 14th.