Seán O’Brien and Marty Moore in line for Leinster return
Connacht will be without Bundee Aki and Denis Buckley for vital Treviso fixture
Ireland’s Seán O’Brien sustained a hamstring injury in the Six Nations defeat to France in Paris at the start of February. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters/Livepic
Leinster are in line for a huge double boost ahead of their big derby clash away to Ulster on Saturday afternoon with international forwards Seán O’Brien and Marty Moore set to return from hamstring injuries.
Backrow O’Brien has been out of action since he went off after just 20 minutes of the Six Nations defeat to France in Paris, while tighthead prop Moore has been sidelined since Leinster’s heavy Champions Cup defeat to Wasps in January. Moore will join the English side this summer.
Leinster are top of the Guinness Pro 12 table thanks to having won a game more than Connacht, but both sides are still looking to nail down home semi-finals.Ulster are presently in fourth position behind Glasgow, with Scarlets two points behind in fifth.
Connacht will be without two influential players for Friday evening’s meeting with Treviso with both Denis Buckley and Bundee Aki sidelined through injury.
Buckley suffered an ankle fracture in training and is ruled out for a “number of weeks”, according to coach Pat Lam, but he is hopeful the inspirational Aki will have recovered from the knee injury he sustained in Connacht’s win over Munster to face Glasgow in the final round fixture in Galway.
“It is a big loss for us. Losing Nathan White and Denis has an impact on our front rowers,” said Lam ahead of Friday’s meeting in Italy. “It wasn’t even a contact drill - one of the players fell down going for the ball and Denis’ leg was in the wrong place. He has always been miraculous with his recovery, but we have to prepare that he is finished for the season, but you never know. It all happened Friday - it’s just unfortunate, but we have to move on.”
However Lam is hoping Aki will make faster progress.
“He’s trying to run around now and we are trying to hold him back,” said Lam.
“We’d be hopeful for the Glasgow game, it depends on the next week, how fast he progresses. It’s not ideal, but we have faced that challenge many times throughout the year, and we have confidence in the next guy who steps up.”
“Without a doubt coming to the end off the season, Denis would be a contender for the forward of the year and Bundee for one of the backs of the year - the consistency of their performances throughout the season has been fantastic.”
Ben Marshall and White continue to be managed for respective head injuries, but there is good news in the Connacht camp with the return of fullback Tieran O’Halloran, outhalf Aj MacGinty, and open side Jake Heenan.