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McFadden ruled out of Champions Cup final but McGrath and Murphy expected to be fit

The winger will miss the rest of the season with the hamstring injury he suffered in the semi-final defeat of Scarlets.

McFadden sustained the injury against Scarlets.
McFadden sustained the injury against Scarlets.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

FERGUS MCFADDEN HAS suffered the cruellest of injury blows after being ruled out of Saturday’s Champions Cup final against Racing 92 [KO 5.45pm, Sky Sports, BT Sport], as well as the remainder of Leinster’s season.

McFadden was injured in the act of scoring Leinster’s third try on the stroke of half-time during the semi-final win over Scarlets, and didn’t return for the second half after being clattered by Steff Evans.

Leinster were hopeful the hamstring injury wasn’t as bad as first feared, but the winger is now facing a period on the sidelines, although it’s not yet known if he will miss Ireland’s summer tour of Australia.

The loss of McFadden is a setback for Leinster ahead of the showdown with Racing in Bilbao, with the 31-year-old enjoying an impressive return to form this season, making key contributions en route to the final.

“It’s a huge blow for him,” Stuart Lancaster said this afternoon.

“He played so well and fought his way back into form and fought his way into the team in a really competitive position.

“We’re blessed we’ve got a lot of players in that position but we’re really disappointed for him.”

McFadden’s absence will be offset somewhat by the expected return to fitness of Luke McGrath, which in turn will allow James Lowe come back in after missing the semi-final due to the non-EU player regulations.

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Stuart Lancaster Stuart Lancaster speaking at UCD this afternoon. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

An ankle injury prevented McGrath from facing Scarlets but the scrum-half has made good progress in his comeback and will return to full training this afternoon as the squad’s preparations intensify at UCD.

Jordi Murphy, who was a late withdrawal from the Pro14 defeat to Connacht two weekends ago as a precaution, is also expected to train fully, while Rhys Ruddock’s fitness will be assessed by the medics after he pulled up with a hamstring problem in the quarter-final win over Saracens.

“We’re pretty optimistic now,” Lancaster said of McGrath. “He trained last week on the Tuesday and the Wednesday and there’s been no reaction to that.

“Having Luke come back into the equation, he’s an experienced player, we’ve got some decisions to make there.”

Cathal Marsh (toe), Sean O’Brien (shoulder), Dave Kearney (shoulder) and Josh van der Flier (knee) all remain long-term absentees.

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