Sexton and Kearney named in Leinster squad
April 27, 2010
Fly-half Sexton broke his jaw in the quarter-final victory over Clermont Auvergne © Getty Images
Fly-half Jonathan Sexton and fullback Rob Kearney have both been included in the Leinster squad for Saturday's Heineken Cup semi-final showdown with Toulouse despite ongoing concerns over their fitness.
Sexton has not played since fracturing his jaw during his province's quarter-final victory over Clermont Auvergne earlier this month while Kearney is battling an ankle injury. There are also injury concerns surrounding prop CJ van der Linde (foot) and centre Brian O'Driscoll (ankle and knee) while Fergus McFadden (calf) and Girvan Dempsey (neck) will also be given time to prove their fitness before the side to face their French rivals is named on Friday.
Ireland No.10 Sexton underwent surgery to insert a metal plate into his jaw after their thrilling 29-28 victory at the RDS and has been receiving oxygen treatment in an attempt to speed up the healing process.
Captain Leo Cullen is one of 15 Ireland internationals named in the provisional panel which also includes the likes of Shane Horgan, who has scored 26 tries in 77 Heineken Cup appearances, Gordon D'Arcy, who has touched down on four occasions so far in this year's competition, and O'Driscoll whose 28 career tries in Europe leaves him in third place in the overall standing.
Speaking ahead of the clash, veteran lock Malcolm O'Kelly urged his side to conjure the kind of performance that saw them beat Toulouse 41-35 in an epic quarter-final clash at Le Stadium in 2006. "That quarter-final against Toulouse is a great memory for sure - along with last season's final against Leicester Tigers and the semi-final with Munster it has to be in the top three," said the 35-year-old. "No-one expected us to do anything but we had a certain belief in ourselves and we managed to pull off a truly massive performance. Now we have to repeat that and I don't think history will do it for us, we will require a whole new approach for what will be a totally different game. There are a number of players still around who played that day so they will know we can do it but at the same time they know there is no guarantee of us doing it again."
Leinster suffered shock defeats against Connacht Rugby and Glasgow Warriors last week, O'Kelly adding, "We had lost only four games all season so they could well prove to be something of wake up calls ahead of our Heineken Cup semi."
Toulouse have concerns of their own with No.8 Louis Picamoles (ankle), hooker William Servat (thigh) and prop Census Johnston (knee) all undergoing treatment after picking injuries in their Top 14 victory over Castres last weekend. "We will have to see how they progress during the week," said Toulouse forwards coach Yannick Bru, in a typically low-key response.
Leinster squad: Leo Cullen, John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Kevin McLaughlin, Malcolm O'Kelly, Mike Ross, Richardt Strauss, CJ van der Linde, Stan Wright, Shaun Berne, Gordon D'Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O'Donohoe, Brian O'Driscoll, Eoin O'Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland