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O'Brien in line for shock Leinster comeback as Murphy talks Edinburgh up

The back-row is desperate to help his team with their league run-in and prove his fitness to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Sean O'Brien pictured in training with Leinster on Monday.
Sean O'Brien pictured in training with Leinster on Monday.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

SEAN O’BRIEN IS desperate to be involved in Leinster’s RaboDirect Pro12 run-in and may yet feature for the province in the coming weeks.

The Carlow native has made a return to training with Leinster and is believed to have come through a handful of contact sessions with no ill effects to his repaired shoulder. An invasive surgical procedure was needed in January after O’Brien dislocated his shoulder in a home match against Ulster in late December.

Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes initially stated O’Brien might return for the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup before the club stretched the diagnosis to deem a return before next season as unlikely.

O’Brien was out in Ballymount on Wednesday for the launch of TV3′s 2015 programme of shows, which includes the Rugby World Cup. He intimated that he would be keen to be involved in Leinster’s final games of the season before adding the decision rested solely with head coach Matt O’Connor and his medical staff. O’Connor stated, on 28 April, that O’Brien was ‘not a million miles away’ from a return.

The flanker, who acted as water carrier in Leinster’s 22-20 win over Ulster last weekend, is said to be keen to boost his team’s league chances with a return while proving his fitness to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt ahead of the summer tour to Argentina.

Jordi Murphy has profited in O’Brien’s injury-enforced absence by appearing in vital Heineken Cup matches and making his Ireland debut in the back row. He believes Leinster’s tough outing against 14-man Ulster will put his teammates in good stead for Saturday’s visit of Edinburgh. He told TheScore.ie:

We know we’re in the semi finals but we can’t afford to ease up this weekend. Edinburgh will be looking to bounce back after losing to Munster last time out and get a scalp over here… We’re incredibly hungry for titles and have sustained that hunger in recent years. I know we’re out of the Heineken [Cup] but we never lost that focus on retaining our Rabo title.”

Murphy should make the plane to Argentina, in June, whether O’Brien makes his comeback or not. The 23-year-old is not so certain, however, and feels he needs ‘to finish the season as strong as possible’ to travel with the senior Irish squad. “[This season] I started to play more and got a bit more confidence,” he added. “My team play, linking up with the boys and communication has all improved.”

Hibernia College IRUPA Rugby Player Awards 2014 Jordi Murphy, pictured at the IRUPA awards this week, will be hoping for a start against Edinburgh. Source: SPORTSFILE

The province has been linked with a move for Australian lock Kane Douglas and while Murphy is aware of the rumours, he preferred not to name names. He commented, “Obviously, we’ve had some good overseas players in the past and we will in the future. It is absolutely good to mix it up and be open [to signings].

“Our squad is primarily made up of Irish players but a strong part of it is made up from southern hemisphere players.” As for Connacht’s capture of New Zealand legend Mils Muliaina, Murphy remarked, “Fair play to them, he’s a massive signing. Hopefully he goes well but not too well against us next season.”

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Patrick McCarry

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