Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney ruled out of Wasps quarter-final

Duo both underwent procedures during the week and will miss Champions Cup match

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, who was a late withdrawl from the game, watches Ireland beat England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, who was a late withdrawl from the game, watches Ireland beat England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Leinster v Cardiff Blues, RDS (3.0, live on TG4, Sky Sports)

The news that Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney underwent surgery this week and will miss Leinster’s Champions Cup match against Wasps at the Aviva stadium on Saturday, April 1st, has ramifications in terms of team selection for this Guinness Pro12 match and their personal aspirations in terms of the Lions. The squad to tour New Zealand will be announced on April 19th.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen confirmed that Heaslip had undergone an operation on Friday morning to correct a disc issue in his lower back that flared up and forced his withdrawal minutes before Ireland’s victory over England last weekend.

There is no definitive date at this point on a return unlike Kearney; the fullback will be out for four to six weeks after minor knee surgery. Cullen admitted: “It’s hard to be definitive with time lines. Jamie had a procedure done on his back. He had a disc issue so they come on quite quickly.”

Cullen confirmed that Heaslip had been in some discomfort at the start of the week, saw a specialist, had another appraisal on Thursday and then the surgery on Friday morning.

Kearney also saw a specialist and medical opinion decreed that he too underwent a procedure last Tuesday. Cullen admitted: “That’s probably four-to-six weeks, so we’ll see how he comes through that.”

Isa Nacewa returns to the Leinster team for the first time since January, while Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy return from Ireland duty to start against the Cardiff Blues. Josh van der Flier is back after a shoulder injury but there is no Jack Conan.

The composition of the Leinster backrow, Leavy, van der Flier and Rhys Ruddock at number eight, allows each an opportunity to stake a claim for a jersey next week in the Champions Cup match against Wasps.

Joey Carbery is once again named at fullback, Ross Byrne at outhalf and Cian Healy is named at loosehead prop as Leinster look to continue the momentum they established in the Six Nations window where they took a maximum 20-points from their four matches.

Cullen also confirmed that Sean Cronin was close to making a return but the Cardiff match came a little early. “It was a tough call. He’s (Cronin) worked incredibly hard to get back and he’s very much in the mix. He trained with the lads today (Friday) and he’s trained this week. He’s very much in the mix.”

Leinster: J Carbery; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, N Reid, I Nacewa (capt); R Byrne, L McGrath; C Healy, R Strauss, M Bent; R Molony, H Triggs; D Leavy, J van der Flier, R Ruddock. Replacements: J Tracy, P Dooley, M Ross, M Kearney, M Deegan, J Gibson-Park, T Daly, F McFadden.

Cardiff Blues: M Morgan; A Cuthbert, R Lee-Lo, S Shingler, B Scully (capt); G Anscombe, T Williams; C Domachowski, K Dacey, A Peikrishvili; G Earle, J Hoeata; M Cook, J Navidi, N Williams. Replacements: M Rees, G Jenkins, S Andrews, S Bennett, E Jenkins, L Williams, W Halaholo, T James.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland)

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