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'People need to be patient and have realistic expectations' - Leavy set for Leinster return

The 26-year-old has been sidelined for 19 months after a horrific knee injury.

LEINSTER BOSS LEO Cullen says supporters and media will need to be patient as they hope to see Dan Leavy return to the kind of form he showed before the horrific knee injury he suffered last year.

19 months on from that injury against Ulster, Leavy is set for his return with Leinster tomorrow night after being named on the bench for the Pro14 clash with Zebre at the RDS [KO 7.35pm eir Sport/TG4].

dan-leavy-injured Leavy has always been a ferocious competitor. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

26-year-old Leavy was an integral part of Ireland’s Grand Slam in 2018 and had been a first-choice pick in Leinster’s back row before his injury. The hope is that the openside flanker can build back towards that exceptional form and become a real force for province and country once again.

As Leinster head coach Cullen welcomed Leavy’s return tomorrow, he did point out that it will take time for the back row star to find his feet again.

“We’ve had to wait a long while to get to this point but huge credit to him,” said Cullen. “As we saw at the time, it was a nasty injury. All the medical team, especially Karl Denver [Leinster's senior physiotherapist], worked so hard to get him back to this point but he did the work so huge credit to him and hopefully he will get some action.

“It will be great to see him get some action and take another step.

“People need to be patient and have realistic expectations. It was March of 2019 when he got the injury so we have to be realistic. He is still a quality player with a big personality. He needs to find his rhythm.

“The last game he played was in front of 52,000 people in the Aviva and this is an RDS with no crowd, so it may feel like a training environment, so we’ll see how it goes.

“There has been the odd setback. Hopefully, he hits the pitch of it and hopefully he’ll go well.”

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dan-leavy-celebrates-winning Leavy will make his return from injury tomorrow night against Zebre. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Leavy is on the bench for Leinster tomorrow in a matchday 23 that includes two players making their debut in the starting XV – hooker Dan Sheehan and outside centre Liam Turner – with replacements David Hawkshaw and Ciaran Parker also set for their first caps.

“Dan featured strongly in the Celtic Cup at the start of last season,” said Cullen, while confirming that Sean Cronin has an injury niggle.

“Liam was a key figure in the U20s before the break and he has gone well in training.

“We’re still quite light with players away on international duty but it gives the senior coaches time to work with the academy coaches and players.

“Dave Hawkshaw has had a long injury lay-off too, very similar to Dan in terms of timeframe and he came through the A game against Ulster well.

“Ciaran Parker gives us a little coverage as a short-term signing. We’re thin on the ground in terms of front rowers but Ciaran gives us cover and he has done well.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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