Feek wary of O’Connell influence

Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek knows his team will have to try and curb the influence of Munster second row Paul O’Connell when the two provinces go head to head in Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at Thomond Park (6.30pm).

O’Connell put in a man-of-the-match performance against Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop last Sunday, inspiring the province to a shock victory.

The big lock has been so impressive in his three performances since returning from almost five months on the sidelines that he has been tipped as a potential British and Irish Lions captain for the summer tour of Australia.

Last weekend’s Heineken Cup win kept Munster’s season alive as they are out of contention for a play-off place in the PRO12.

However, Feek knows there is no such thing as a dead rubber when Munster and Leinster collide and he recognises the threat posed by O’Connell’s recent form.

“It’s always pretty even when it comes to the Leinster Munster games, it’s a real battle so we’re not expecting anything different this week,” he told LTV.

“Paulie O’Connell seems to be going from strength to strength.

“There were danger signs against Connacht and Glasgow where they started really well and if they kept doing that in the second half you could see they were going to do some damage.

“That’s what happened at the weekend I think, they carried that momentum on, with him at the forefront as normal.”

Leinster will be boosted by the return of their talisman as Brian O’Driscoll comes back into the squad having served his three week suspension for a stamping offence committed during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Italy.

He may be joined by Jonathan Sexton who continues to recover from an ankle injury picked up on international duty.

Feek confirmed that the flyhalf is nearing a return and could be in contention for a starting place and the Kiwi is pleased with the health of the squad generally ahead of the interprovincial showdown.

“We’re not too bad, we’re travelling alright. Johnny’s going to train either tomorrow or Thursday so he’s hopefully available.

“Eoin O’Malley is still is rehab and Andy Boyle got a knock on the knee so he’s out as well but apart from that everyone is getting some fitness in.

“O’Driscoll is obviously back, he hasn’t been injured in the last three weeks but was out with suspension so it’s exciting to have him back.”

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