Sexton poised to give Leinster one final push
Jonathan Sexton is in line for a dramatic recall to the Leinster squad for tomorrow night's Magners League semi-final showdown with Munster at the RDS.
The out-half has not played since fracturing his jaw in the Heineken Cup quarter-final victory over Clermont Auvergne on April 9, but it is understood that he had a plate removed this week and has been cleared to take part in the clash.
Australian Shaun Berne has been playing well in Sexton's absence and remains a solid option at 10, but coach Michael Cheika may opt to start the Ireland international which would set up a fascinating tussle with Munster's Ronan O'Gara ahead of next week's squad announcement for the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.
O'Gara, who steered Munster into the semi-finals with four penalties against the Cardiff Blues — which was enough to earn the necessary losing bonus point — looks certain to start at 10 for the champions, but the news on centre Keith Earls is less encouraging for Tony McGahan's men.
The Limerick youngster continues to struggle with the groin injury that has plagued him since the Six Nations.
It says something for the standards Munster demand of themselves that semi-final appearances in the Heineken Cup and Magners League do not count as success.
McGahan said: “It's been an okay season, but the real goal for us is to finish with silverware.” Warned of a battle against rivals who have beaten Munster in each of their past three meetings he added: “Leinster certainly demonstrated over the last number of years — and especially so in this particular year — their physicality in their carrying and the physicality in their defence.
“So that's going to be a real area for us.”
Leinster: S Berne, G D'Acy, G Dempsey, S Horgan, R Kearney, S Keogh, I Madigan, F McFadden, I Nacewa, P O'Donohoe, B O'Driscoll, E O'Malley, E Reddan, J Sexton, J Fogarty, C Healy, J Heaslip, N Hines, T Hogan, S Jennings, S Keogh, K McLaughlin, S O'Brien, M O'Kelly, M Ross, R Ruddock, D Ryan, R Strauss, CJ van der Linde, S Wright.
Munster: S Deasy, D Barnes, D Hurley, D Howlett, T Gleeson, K Earls, L Mafi, J de Villiers, P Warwick, R O'Gara, P Stringer, T O'Leary, M Horan, D Ryan, J Hayes, T Buckley, J Flannery, D Varley, D Fogarty, D O'Callaghan, M O'Driscoll, B Holland, A Quinlan, D Wallace, N Ronan, N Williams,J Coughlan.
Meanwhile, although Ulster will play no part in this weekend’s Magners League semi-finals, two men from the province will square up on opposite sides when Ospreys and Glasgow Warriors go head-to-head tonight (7.05).
Ospreys wing Tommy Bowe and Ravenhill-bound Glasgow lock Tim Barker are the opponents in question in a match to which the Warriors’ head coach Sean Lineen has ascribed international status.