O’Driscoll doubtful for Castres match but Kirchner available
Munster waiting for word on Zebo’s ankle injury before Gloucester game
Ulster and Ireland international scrumhalf Paul Marshall has committed to the province after signing a three-year extension to his contract. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho/Presseye
Brian O’Driscoll is unlikely to be fit for Leinster’s second round Heineken Cup match against Castres at the weekend, but South African fullback Zane Kirchener is available for selection.
O’Driscoll, whose calf muscle injury kept him out of Leinster’s away win over Ospreys last weekend, appears to be just off target for a return to the RDS on Saturday.
“He’s still progressing and working through his calf so he’s probably a little bit away yet,” said scrum coach Greg Feek.
If coach Matt O’Connor is look for experience against the French Top 14 champions he may well look to Kirchner, who played at fullback during the recent Rugby Championship but is versatile enough to move to the wing or outside centre.
Lote Tuquiri, who has already played at 13, remains on the injury list with a hamstring problem, while prop Mike Ross and flanker Shane Jennings, who is recovering from a broken hand, have not yet been ruled out.
In Munster, Rob Penney will know this morning how his international winger Simon Zebo is. Zebo, who limped out of their game in Edinburgh last weekend, had a scan on his left ankle last night, ahead of Saturday’s vidit of Gloucester to Thomond Park, while James Coughlan, who took a knock to his left forearm has been cleared of a fracture but is being monitored.
Paddy Butler has fractured his right thumb and is out for at least eight weeks.
In Ulster, South African captain Johann Muller remains an injury doubt for Saturday’s clash with Montpellier in France. The inspirational lock injured his neck in their 22-16 win over Leicester at Ravenhill.
Ulster said they are hopeful he will available for selection. Their number 8 Nick Williams (hip) and winger Craig Gilroy (ankle) are expected to be fit to face the French side, who also won their Pool 5 opening match.
There was also good news as scrumhalf Paul Marshall, has followed Ruan Pienaar, Williams and Robbie Diack in sticking with the province. Marshall has signed a three-year extension that will keep him at Ravenhill until 2017, when he will be 31 years old.
The Ireland international made his debut for the province in 2006 and has made 108 appearances, the most recent Friday’s first round Heineken Cup win over Leicester.
“Paul is an extremely important member of our squad and I am delighted that he has opted to stay with Ulster for three more years,” said director of rugby David Humphreys.
“To compete in the knock-out stages of both the Heineken Cup and the RaboDirect Pro12, we need depth in all positions and retaining another international scrumhalf is an important part of achieving that.”