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Dublin: 9°C Monday 8 March 2021

Leinster won't rush Furlong or Sexton

The prop has not played since February, the out-half suffered a dead leg against Scotland but could feature this weekend.

File photo: Furlong shakes hands with Andrew Porter last December.
File photo: Furlong shakes hands with Andrew Porter last December.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

LEINSTER BACKS COACH Felipe Contepomi says there is no need to worry about Tadhg Furlong’s ongoing absence, pointing out a cautious approach to his reintroduction.

Furlong has been out since rugby’s restart with a back injury and now a calf issue. So when he does make his return for either club or country, he will be bridging a gap back to his last match in February. His last outing for Leinster was a 27-minute run-out against Benetton in January.

“We don’t just throw players in for the sake of getting them back.We want them to succeed when they are back on the pitch,” Contepomi said yesterday after Furlong was among the men ruled out of Saturday’s Champions Cup opener in Montpellier.

“So we’ll take the time necessary to make sure he’s in the best physical, mental and technical moment for him to come back and be a success.

“It’s not a worry, it’s just about time. I know these days one week, two weeks, sounds like a long time. When you see it in your career, maybe those extra two or three weeks can give you another three or four years.”

Jonathan Sexton’s return to fitness may be a matter of days, rather than Furlong’s weeks.

Although the Ireland captain was marked available in yesterday’s injury update after sustaining a dead leg against Scotland, the out-half still has a few markers to hit in order to make the squad’s flight to Montpellier.

Contepomi signalled that Sexton will be given every chance to make the French trip, but like the Furlong situation, they will exercise caution.

“If we risk him now, say he’s not 100% and we play him against Montpellier and we get him out for the next four or five games – it’s not worth it.

“Sometimes you have to wait a bit longer and have him for more games in a row.”

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The first European outing of the season will come too soon for Garry Ringrose, who has yet to resume contact training after surgery on his broken jaw.

Missing such talent may not even be Leinster’s major problem this week, blending the talent that has been ripping their way through the Pro14 with proven talents returning from Ireland camp is a tricky task indeed.

From Contepomi’s view in the coaches’ room, the training ground is where players must make their case for inclusion.

“When you have to pick the team for Leinster, it’s so difficult, the calls are so tight, that it all comes to maybe one training session. ‘This guy is really hot at the moment, he’s training really well and he’s in the right frame of mind.’

“That’s the balance. The good thing is they push the boundaries here themselves. They are so competitive themselves that they know it’s about, every day they have to prove they can own that jersey so that they are picked at the weekend.”

He adds: “It’s a big challenge this week, to try to get everyone on the same page in terms of our Leinster way of playing.

“The players have been magnificent, not only in terms of the guys who have been in the Irish camp coming in and trying to reintegrate and get up to speed with what we’ve been working on here in Leinster. But also the guys who have been in the Leinster camp making themselves available and trying to help the international players to get up to speed.

“It’s a massive week for the club, it’s a huge week for the club, and we know how hard it is to go and get a result in France.”

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Sean Farrell

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