©INPHO/Morgan Treacy Sean Cronin. Fergus McFadden and Eoin Reddan.
# domestic bliss
Supporting Irish cast set for Pro12 duty ahead of Scotland clash
It may be Ladies Night at the RDS this Saturday but Leinster are expected to give some of their leading men a chance to shine.

IT MAY SEEM like tempting fate, at a time when the Irish rugby team is being collectively held together by twine and plasters, but several international players will be cleared for Pro12 duty this weekend.

Following the home defeat to England, the Irish casualty list makes up more than a starting XV and you can bet that the rest of the team that faced England are not feeling to chipper.

Mercifully, despite the best wishes of the French and English leagues, the Six Nations squads have a weekend off.

Scotland at Murrayfield is the next Irish task and several of the players that Declan Kidney will be calling upon are short of game time.

The clearest indication of this approach was seen at Leinster’s training session in Dublin yesterday as Sean Cronin, Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Rhys Ruddock and Devin Toner all took a full part in training.

With Sean O’Brien nursing a tight hamstring, Kevin McLauglin may earn an international reprieve. The flanker was also present for training on the UCD pitches but had a watching brief.

The province, now sitting firmly in second position in the Pro12, are running a promotion called Leinster Loves Ladies for their Saturday match against Treviso and are promising free cupcakes and flowers. That’s Valentine’s Day sorted – better late and free than never.

Good news alert

With the national focus trained Ireland’s exploits in the Six Nations, two of Munster’s marquee players went for ‘minor’ knee surgery.

Captain Doug Howlett and fullback Felix Jones went the surgical route to correct niggles and Munster expect them back in training by the end of the month. The most likely return to action date in 2 March against Ospreys.

Connacht must be regretting this whole international call-up lark after news emerged from the Irish camp of a medial ligament strain for lock Mike McCarthy.

The westerners lost John Muldoon, who was playing for the Wolfhounds at the time, for three months following but the talismanic flanker made a return, as a substitute, against Scarlets at the weekend.

Amid the tea, Deep Heat and sympathy, there was some good news for a player that shone for the Wolfhounds against Fiji in November.

Luke Marshall played 80 minutes for Ulster in the home reversal to Ospreys on Friday and is expected to start against Treviso this weekend, when he may well be partnered in midfield by Darren Cave.

With Simon Zebo out of action until mid April at the earliest, Kidney would be well advised to call Marshall into his training squad for the Scotland game.

An injection of youthful vigour and confidence is just what the doctor ordered.

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