Van der Flier and Gibson-Park back in contention for Leinster
Duo recovered from injury and available to face Munster at the RDS
Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park and Josh van der Flier are available to face Munster at the RDS. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Jamison Gibson-Park and Josh van der Flier are expected to be available for selection for Leinster’s Pro14 semi-final against Munster at the RDS.
Gibson-Park has recovered from a hamstring injury and is set to play his first match since starting in the defeat to the Glasgow Warriors at the RDS on April 13th. He was replaced after 65 minutes of that game by Hugh O’Sullivan. His availability would reignite the three-into-two selection conundrum involving Gibson Park, James Lowe and Scott Fardy under the foreigner rule.
It’s one that will be resolved next month when the scrumhalf qualifies under the residency rule having spent three years at the Irish province.
Van der Flier has made a remarkable recovery following groin surgery and will be in the selection mix. His last game for Leinster was a Champions Cup match against Wasps in January as he suffered a groin tear while playing for Ireland in the Six Nations Championship victory over France in March.
Joe Tomane picked up a hamstring injury in training last week and is not available for the Munster match.
There were no serious injury concerns arising from a brutally physical encounter in Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens at St James’ Park on Saturday but a clearer picture will be available when the players train for the first time this week today.
It would be a minor miracle and a huge feather in the cap of the strength and conditioning team at the province if all the Leinster players on duty in Newcastle were available for Saturday’s game against Munster at the RDS.
Last season, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen made six changes to the team that won the Champions Cup against Racing 92 in Bilbao for the Pro14 semi-final the following weekend, a match in which they beat Saturday’s opponents, Munster 16-15 in front of a packed RDS. It is reasonable to assume that there will be some rotation within the squad once again.
Leinster forwards coach John Fogarty did say they’d look to field the strongest possible team as they try to maintain the defence of the title.
“It’s tough [mentally for players]. We’ve got one game left, we lose that game, that’s it; we’re done.
“I think we need to be as strong as we possibly can be. Those calls will be made. We’ll put a strong as a team as we can out. We’re desperate to win too but Billy Holland has been talking about that he’s not going to leave this place [Munster] until he gets something, until he gets a win.
“There’s that desperation to win down there, and we’ll match that desperation as well. It’s going to be a big, big battle for both teams. We’ll need to be as strong as we can be.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game at the RDS have sold out. That includes the extra seating put in specifically for the match and thereby bringing up the capacity to 18,977.