Luke McGrath has expressed hope that the rugby season can continue as normal despite a recent surge in coronavirus cases throughout Europe.
Leinster take on Connacht tonight in the Pro14 at the RDS Arena, despite both teams recording positive coronavirus cases during the week.
The Blues’ last game against Munster was postponed due to concerns over the virus, but will get to play their first Irish derby of the festive season against their western rivals.
Congratulations to Academy duo Max O’Reilly and Andrew Smith who will both make their senior debuts from the start tomorrow against Connacht! 🔵🙌#LeinsterRugby #FromTheGroundUp pic.twitter.com/e0GguYrMxT
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) January 1, 2021
McGrath, who will captain Leinster tonight, admitted that the positive cases are making it difficult for the side but acknowledged that all teams are currently struggling with the current situation.
“With all the Covid cases, it is stretching us but it’s all squads. You’re very reliant on the younger guys and it’s great to see these two younger players, Max O’Reilly and Andrew Smith, getting their debuts.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go but all squads are a bit more stretched. We’re all hopeful that we can [finish the season], but there are a lot of scenarios in place these days where everyone has to pass a test per week.
“It’s going to be very difficult because you see the sort of numbers going up at the minute. We’re going back to Level 5.
“We’re very privileged to be able to play the game and hopefully put on good performances at the weekend for everyone at home watching.
“Hopefully we can get through it. We missed a couple of games recently so we’ve a bit of catching up to do,” McGrath said.
‘We announce extras every week’
Leinster are no strangers to using a large amount of players each season, but the Irish international believes the current season is testing the squad like never before.
“If this year  has taught us anything it’s to take it week-by-week and see what players are available per week. If you look at Northampton, Harry [Byrne] got injured in the warm-up and Ross [Byrne] had to come in.
“[Ciaran] Frawley was on the bench and Cian Kelleher had to come in as well. We announce extras for every single week and ever more so they could be easily used,” McGrath commented.