Sean O’Brien set to return to Leinster colours for game against Connacht
Forwards coach John Fogarty speaks of the hurt following Leinster’s 47-10 thumping at the Sportsground last season
Leinster’s Sean O’Brien: “He’s back and he’s good, and the medics are happy.” Photograph: Getty Images
Sean O’Brien is set to return to Leinster colours for the first time since a Guinness Pro14 match against Benetton in April when he suffered a shoulder injury. He returned to full contact training last week, and providing there are no adverse effects following a rigorous practice on Tuesday will be available for selection for Saturday’s interprovincial derby against Connacht at the Sportsground (5.15pm).
Leinster forwards coach John Fogarty explained: “He [O’Brien] trained last week twice, and in the Thursday session he did a nice bit of contact: chomping at the bit is Sean O’Brien at the moment. He is back in the programme fully. He’s going to train [Monday] in a light session and [Tuesday] is full on, which he’s looking forward to.
“He’s back and he’s good, and the medics are happy. The only thing is he’s five months out and they will be watching like hawks over the week. He’s a huge addition even in meetings. He adds such value. Sean is a little bit different. There is an edge to Sean in everything he does. There’s times when we lacked that. We definitely lacked that last year against Ospreys away, against Treviso at home, against Connacht away,”
Fogarty continued in a reference to Leinster’s 47-10 thumping at the Sportsground last season. “We lacked edge, this intangible thing that Sean can bring. He is a very valuable player.”
Cian Healy touched on the hurt that some Leinster players felt after the Connacht match last season in which those that played dropped standards appreciably below what is demanded by the group. It’s something that’s been addressed this week, not in seeking revenge per se, but as a reminder that attitude and application are vital.
Fogarty said: “Physically we were dominated and that can’t happen in rugby [if you want to win]. That was very, very disappointing.”
He doesn’t subscribe to the notion that it served a timely wake-up call ahead of last year’s Champions Cup and Pro14 finals.
“I don’t think it’s a good thing. You could say good things came from it, but I don’t think it’s a good thing. It’s not good for a squad for their performance to drop that much, [be] physically dominated, [lose] the set-piece, mentally weak during the game; there’s nothing good about those things.
“I don’t think we can just rely on the disappointment of last year to create a performance for us, and that we come flying out of the blocks and knock them down in the first 10 minutes. We need to be nicely focused on what we do, but I think there is a bit of an edge because we got dusted up last year massively.”
There was further good news for last season’s Pro14 and Champions Cup winners in that scrumhalf Nick McCarthy [wrist] and outhalf cum centre Ciaran Frawley [arm] are also back in full training.
James Ryan was removed following a blow to the head against Edinburgh last weekend by the Leinster medics. It is referred to as a “section one”, in which case the player doesn’t do a head injury assessment (HIA).
Dan Leavy received a forearm to the jaw/head – Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman was sent off in the incident – and was removed soon after being introduced as a second-half replacement. He underwent a HIA and will undergo the graduated return-to-play protocols.