Belfast Telegraph

O'Brien return boosts Leinster ahead of derby

By Conor George

Sean O'Brien is expected to make his first appearance of the season for Leinster in Saturday's mouth-watering Pro12 clash with Munster in Thomond Park.

O'Brien, who has been strongly linked with a move to Racing Metro, had surgery to repair a broken thumb shortly after he returned from the Lions tour. That injury has healed and he has returned to training.

It is anticipated he will play some part in Saturday's game, according to team manager Guy Easterby.

"We're very hopeful Sean will be back on deck for Saturday's game," he said. "We are in a healthy position after the weekend, which is a real bonus.

"We made 11 changes to the team for Friday's game and we had five or six guys starting for the first time this season.

"To come through that unscathed is a real positive, especially with what we have lying ahead."

Ireland quartet Gordon D'Arcy, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin and Eoin Reddan are also expected to return, while Lote Tuqiri and Luke Fitzgerald are also in contention.

"The latter pair haven't played much rugby and it depends on how they respond to training, but they are in consideration for the game," Easterby confirmed.

Shane Jennings, Leo Cullen and Michael Bent are the only players definitely ruled out and are unlikely to be available for the opening Heineken Cup game against Ospreys the following week.

New signing Zane Kirchner has been included in the Heineken Cup squad and arrives from South Africa early next week.

Meanwhile, Munster are also expected to be in rude health for Saturday's derby. Conor Murray is expected to be available after his return to action was delayed because of a toe injury, which forced him to miss Saturday's win over Dragons.

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