Leinster lose Healy but gain Kane Douglas
Matt O’Connor has been hit with injury but can field a strong side against Cardiff
Leisnter’s new signing Kane Douglas with head coach Matt O’Connor. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Cian Healy’s hamstring tear puts him out for at least four weeks and could see him miss the November series of international matches. Coach Matt O’Connor must also consider Jack McGrath and Shane Jennings missing a few weeks with Sean O’Brien out too but more positively without the “loose body” that was removed from his ankle.
But the cupboard at loosehead looks a little bare and cometh the hour cometh the man with Michael Bent in for tonight. Backs Dave Kearney, Zane Kirchner and Luke Fitzgerald are also in sick bay.
The arrival of Kane Douglas is likely to provide a subtext interest against Cardiff as will Gordon D’Arcy, who partners Ian Madigan in the centre, D’Arcy filling the place of the man he soldiered with for more than a decade at 13. That development will interest fans eagerly awaiting to see what’s on Joe Schmidt’s mind for those positions with Ireland.
In the second row, Michael Cheika didn’t hold back in his praise for Douglas at Waratahs and suggested Australia should still consider him for next year’s World Cup despite the Ewen McKenzie overseas player policy. That sets the bar quite high for the big man who joins Devin Toner in his third start of the season.
O’Connor, stoic enough after Connacht’s win last week, saw enough in Leinster’s defeat not to panic but when asked about the preparation, he answered, “Wednesday. One session,” not seeming at all impressed with his players having to rock up to Carton House this week for an Irish squad session.
O’Connor bemoaned the chances Leinster left behind at the Sportsground, tallying their profligate ways to 20 points and hoping for more accuracy from his squad tonight.
Marty Moore will start his first game of the season at tighthead, with Bent and Sean Cronin completing the front row. Mike Ross is rested with a hungry Tadgh Furlong on the bench.
Director of rugby at Cardiff, Mark Hammett, has made seven changes to his travelling side with international Welsh prop, Gethin Jenkins, making his s easonal debut, while flanker and Lions captain Sam Warburton makes a return, with Josh Navidi moving to number 8 and captaining the team.
Leinster may also need to keep a watchful eye on George Watkins, who makes his debut. The winger, playing opposite Alex Cuthbert, is rewarded for his stunning recent form for Cardiff RFC, where he has scored five tries in two games.
Cardiff have lost to Glasgow and Ulster in previous games, Leinster their third big club in as many weeks.