Crunch time for Leinster
EURO SPOTLIGHT: Leinster will enter a crucial period of their campaign, as they look to retain both their titles – the Champions Cup and the Pro14.
The focus for Leinster now shifts back to the European competition for the next two weeks – with the Irish province now 15 points ahead at the top of Pro14 Conference B, following their 59-10 rout of the Dragons this past weekend.
Leinster head to the Recreation Ground for a clash with Bath in the European Champions Cup this coming Saturday.
Coach Leo Cullen will be without Jack McGrath for four to six weeks, following a procedure to address a hip injury last week.
Nick McCarthy (foot) remains sidelined as does Robbie Henshaw, who picked up a hamstring injury while on international duty.
On a positive note, Jack Conan, Rory O’Loughlin, Dan Leavy and Jordan Larmour have all returned to training this week and could be in contention to play on Saturday.
Barry Daly remains out of the running to play despite his return to training last week.
Cullen labelled his team’s back-to-back Champions Cup matches with Bath as ‘huge, as he attempts to guide the Irish province back to the top of Pool One.
After demolishing Wasps 52-3 at home in Round One, the defending champions lost 27-28 at Toulouse in Round Two back in October – to trail the French club by two points.
However, they now have a chance to apply pressure on their fellow four-time European Cup winners with consecutive matches against Bath – at the Recreation Ground on Saturday and then at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium a week later.
“That’s exactly what we want, we want it to be nice and competitive,” Cullen told Premier Sports.
“We’ve got two huge games now against Bath.
“It’s a very exciting time for the team.
“This part of the season plays such an important part in what you’re doing later in the season.
“Two huge games against Bath, then we have our three interprovincial [Pro14] derbies after that, then we’re into Europe for Toulouse at home and Wasps away. It’s an exciting block of games.”
Sources: @leinsterrugby & Premier Sports