Darragh Hurley is recovering from a neck operation while his front-row colleague Jerry Flannery, has a slight calf muscle injury picked up in training in Portugal. Hurley is expected to resume contact next week while Flannery is thought to be about three weeks off a return to playing.
Team manager Shaun Payne, speaking at a media briefing yesterday in UL, also explained that the absence of Ian Dowling is down to a knee injury but one that is not thought to be serious.
Nick Williams, who Payne said was 'flying' in pre-season training, is on the mend following successful knee surgery to mend a damaged cartilage whilst Tomas O'Leary is well ahead of schedule for a return to action." Originally it was reported that Tomas would not be back until around Christmas. But we are hopeful that he will be back on the pitch before the start of the Heineken Cup. I'm not going to give a definite but he is way ahead of schedule." said Payne.
And that continued the Manager, is down to his work ethic and dedication and the work of the physios and fitness staff. Payne also expressed his disappointment for Williams who he said had looked exceptional in pre-season. "Nick had a lot of injury last season but he really was going well in pre-season. Looked very fit. He's a big boy, very powerful with really great skill sets. He should be back around Magners League 4 and we'd expect him to make an impression."
Alan Quinlan's suspension ends on September 9th and there was also good news about scrum-half Duncan Williams who came through the Academy / Under20s clash last weekend with flying colours.
Payne is acutely aware of the difficult nature of his side's opener, "Yes it has proved a very difficult fixture for us. Last time we were there it ended in a draw and the time before that I played in the game we lost 24-13. So we have it all to do on Friday but we will take confidence from our matches to date realising of course that this game will be a big step up."