Sexton and Gibson-Park could make Leinster return for season finale
Harry Byrne could also come back in to Leo Cullen’s selection for RDS encounter
Johnny Sexton could play in Leinster’s final game of the season against the Dragons at the RDS on Friday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Jamison Gibson-Park, Johnny Sexton and Harry Byrne could all come into Leo Cullen’s selection planning this week for Leinster’s 26th and final game of the season against the Dragons at the RDS on Friday (kick-off 8.15pm – live on Eir Sport).
Gibson-Park, who has been restricted to just four minutes of rugby for Leinster since the win over Munster in January due to a post-Six Nations hamstring issue, returned to training last week while Sexton, sidelined since the European quarter-final win over Exeter, continues to train away and Harry Byrne has returned to training this week after his hamstring issue.
In further welcome news, Adam Byrne will also return to training this week from a long-standing hamstring injury.
Amid all of this, of course, Andrew Porter has joined a lengthy injury list due to the foot injury he picked up away to Glasgow Warriors on Friday evening and will thus miss the Lions tour. This highlights the risks in seeking to maintain match fitness, especially for Leinster’s three remaining Lions – Tadhg Furlong, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw – for what is now a dead rubber next Friday.
Tommy O’Brien, who picked up a hamstring injury in the captain’s run ahead of the game against Glasgow Warriors, will be unavailable for selection this week while Conor O’Brien will look to increase his training load this week as he recovers from a long-standing knee issue
James Lowe (back), Will Connors (knee), Thomas Clarkson (hamstring), Dave Kearney (quad), Ciarán Frawley (shoulder), Rhys Ruddock (calf), Jack Dunne (ankle), Dan Leavy (knee) and Max Deegan (knee) all remain sidelined.
The game is notable for hosting 1,200 Leinster Rugby supporters as part of the trial events being hosted over the coming weeks, the first supporters at one of the province’s games after 18 matches in Dublin since February 2020.
Among these will be 100 frontline staff from St Vincent’s University Hospital in recognition of all their work over the previous 15 months.
It will also be the last game on Eir Sport for Leinster, who thanked the broadcasters in a statement. “Everyone involved with the club would like to formally thank the team in front of and behind the screen, for all their dedication and hard work in bringing our games to our supporters over the last few years.
“That end product has never been more important than over the last 15 months when sport kept a lot of people entertained, albeit from the comfort of their homes.
“Eir Sport consistently showed our sport, our team and our players as part of a well thought out and produced package and we thank them for their help.”