BRIAN O’DRISCOLL AND the majority of his Six Nations winning teammates have been cleared to face Munster at the sold out Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Forwards coach Jono Gibbes says loose-head prop Jack McGrath is the only injury worry from the 15 Leinster players that took part in Ireland’s 22-20 win over France in Paris. Gibbes remarked that head coach Matt O’Connor will only ‘pull the pin’ on his team selection after putting his team through their final, full training session.
“A few guys are a little bit banged up,” said Gibbes. “It was a pretty physical game against France. Jack McGrath took a bit of a knock late in the game. Dev [Toner] has played a lot of football, Jamie [Heaslip] played five 80-minute games.
“It’s a two-pronged approach. We know what we got next week [Toulon in the Heineken Cup] and we know what’s required if you are going to play Munster. We need to make sure everyone is fully fit before they enter the field on Saturday.”
Gibbes added, “You also take into consideration some of the guys who have worked through the Six Nations, rewarding them a little bit, mixing their effort, integrating internationals back, bit of injury and managing guys. It’s all a bit of a mixed up equation.”
The New Zealander says Leinster’s management trusts the club’s medical staff to ensure the fitness and freshness of the senior players. “Some of those [playing] decisions aren’t made by the coach and some are in collaboration with the trainer, the coach, sometimes the player. We’ve got a good, happy squad. Some have worked really hard, some have been under the wheels for a while at international level. We just have to put it all back together really.”
O’Driscoll, who received the Freedom of Dublin on Saturday, and scrum-half Eoin Reddan were the first two Leinster players onto the training ground. Saturday’s match against Munster could be his final meeting with Leinster’s old rivals but there is still a chance both sides could face off in a Heineken Cup semi-final or the RaboDirect Pro12 knock-out stages.
Gibbes said, “With Drico, he has had a couple of weeks in the spotlight, which doesn’t naturally sit well with him. He’s enjoyed coming back in here, putting his head down, preparing for this game, getting right, looking at images of Munster, getting excited about playing those guys.
“He just gets on with it, puts his head down. The song and dance that has happened for a couple of weeks now, he just wants to get back to work.”