Ireland players set to return to Leinster duty

Jamie Heaslip

Leinster look set to welcome back a host of Irish internationals for Saturday night’s trip to Thomond Park to face Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12 (7.30pm).

Gordon D’Arcy, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney, Sean O’Brien, Eoin Reddan, Mike Ross and Jonathan Sexton all return after their involvement with Ireland in the Six Nations.

Friday’s 22-23 defeat to the Ospreys came at a cost with Jamie Hagan (damaged rib cartilage) in doubt for this week.

There is better news in that fellow tight-head prop Nathan White (bruised cheek) could make the trip to Limerick and he will continue to be monitored by the Leinster medical staff this week.

A final decision on his availability will be made at Friday’s midday team announcement.

Leo Cullen and Brian O’Driscoll both successfully came through their first appearances since their respective (two-month and four-month) injury lay-offs in a game which also marked Brad Thorn’s debut.

David Kearney, who has made 16 appearances so far this season, sustained a cut above his eye which required stitches, but the Cooley man will be available for selection.

There are several significant landmarks for two Leinster stalwarts. Wexford centre Gordon D’Arcy’s next appearance will be his 200th for the province, a milestone only bettered by Shane Horgan (207 caps).

D’Arcy has played 14 years of professional rugby since making his debut away to Edinburgh in September 1998.

Luke Fitzgerald, meanwhile, is very close to becoming the 18th player in Leinster history to reach the 100 cap mark.

In doing so, he will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Malcolm O’Kelly, Leo Cullen, Brian O’Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings and Rob Kearney.

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