Ryan back training but Leinster 'not going to rush' his recovery from concussion

However, Johnny Sexton is set for his return for the province this weekend.

Ryan is back training but not taking contact.
Ryan is back training but not taking contact.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Apr 5th 2022, 8:44 AM

LEINSTER HAVE UNDERLINED that they will take a patient and cautious approach with James Ryan as he continues to recover from his latest concussion.

The 25-year-old second row has been sidelined since suffering a head injury during Ireland’s win over England in the Six Nations on 12 March.

Ryan has had several concussions over the past two years and is now in recovery mode, with no publicly-stated timeline for his possible return to action. 

“He’s training,” said Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster yesterday. “He’s not doing contact, so we’re just making sure that we look after him. He is training away.

“There’s a fair amount of science and people he can speak to. We’ve got a good plan for him to make sure he comes back and comes back confident and ready. We want to make sure we do right by him so we’re not going to rush it.

“He’s non-contact and we’re making sure we look after him in training but equally he is fit and well enough to pass and run around with a rugby ball but we don’t want to expose him to contact or games yet as he returns.”

Ryan remains sidelined ahead of the back-to-back Champions Cup clashes with Connacht over the next two weekends, while fellow lock Ryan Baird is also still on the comeback trail from a back injury.

Loosehead prop Andrew Porter, hooker Rónan Kelleher, and wing Jordan Larmour have been sidelined in recent weeks too, although they are closer to making their returns and could feature against Connacht.

“They’re all on slightly different levels of progress,” said Lancaster. “They’re definitely going to be there or thereabouts for the two-legged affair but whether they’re going to be involved this week or not, it’s TBC.

stuart-lancaster Stuart Lancaster at Leinster training. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

“Andrew trained today, Rónan trained all last week as well, and Jordan is not quite there for training yet, so that’s the order.”

One man who is definitely available to return in Galway on Friday night is captain Johnny Sexton, who sat out last weekend’s win over Munster in Thomond Park.

The 36-year-old is raring to go for what will be his first Leinster appearance since January.

“He’s keen to come back in,” said Lancaster. “It’s not like his enthusiasm has diminished in any way, shape or form.

“My conversations with him centre around what did he learn from Ireland [during the Six Nations], what did he feel they did well and things they could do better and, more importantly, ‘this is what we’re doing’. He’s desperate to get up to speed so he can lead from the front because he’s the captain of the team.

“Naturally Johnny wants to play every game but also I think there’s a general understanding both from him and us that that is not going to be the case all the time.

“And we’re very lucky that Ross [Byrne] is so good. I thought he was outstanding at the weekend, one of his best games this season. He was the big reason why we got the win. They work really well together.

“Harry [Byrne] is obviously on his way back now and he’s had a bit of a frustrating season but he is there and Ciarán Frawley as well. We’ve got good options there for sure.”

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Whatever about the Leinster selection this weekend, Lancaster has no doubt they will face a ferocious challenge in Galway.

Leinster are the strong favourites for the two-legged round-of-16 match-up, but won’t be taking anything for granted.

jack-carty-celebrates Leinster visit Galway on Friday night. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“I’ve had some days there when we’ve won and days there when we’ve lost, and lost badly, and so they’ve got my ultimate respect,” said Lancaster.

“As a place, obviously I’ve been there for rugby, but I just think they’re hugely passionate about their area and rightly so, and I think they are really well-coached, their attacking plays, their attention to detail, the commitment of the players is second to none.

“I know Leicester pretty well and I know how hard it was for Leicester to beat Connacht in both those [Champions Cup pool] games.

“It gives you a mark of how strong we believe Connacht are and on their day how dangerous they are because Leicester are the top team in the Premiership and they’ve only lost three games, having played 21, and they struggled on both occasions to beat Connacht.”

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