Such is the strength in depth which Leinster have in the back-row at the moment, you would almost be forgiven in forgetting that the eastern province has two Ireland internationals waiting to make their return from long-term injury.
Both Jack Conan and Dan Leavy are closing in on making their first appearances of the season. Conan is expected to be back for the Champions Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens while Leavy will likely be a few weeks after that quarter-final.
Caelan Doris and Max Deegan are the latest Leinster back-rows to become fully-fledged Ireland internationals and head coach Leo Cullen will certainly have a selection headache on his hands when both Conan and Leavy return to fitness.
James Ryan, speaking to the media last week, gave an update on Leavy who he says is “flying” at the moment.
“It’s brilliant, he’s been in that gym for 10 months working his ass off which I knew he would be because he’s like a dog when he gets going,” Ryan said last week.
“He’s running now, by all accounts he’s flying it with the rehab which is great. I’m catching up with him at the weekend, he’s got a new puppy actually so I’m meeting him for coffee.”
Conan, who is recovering from a foot injury and Leavy, who is recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered in the Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster last year, are both inadvertently providing motivation to the rest of the Leinster squad. The better Leinster perform, the longer their season will be and therefore increasing the likelihood of the duo playing a part this season.
“I just think it shows you there’s nothing certain with the collision game that it is. It’s something we draw on with Leinster, that we’ve got some guys like Jack Conan and Leavy that aren’t featuring at the moment but have been working incredibly hard and being able to draw on that and say, ‘the further we can get, the more likely it is that they can play a part this season’. It’s definitely a motivator we use.
“So it’s great that he’s doing so well. I personally can’t wait to have him back in the set-up, you know, as a player but also as a good mate of mine.”
Suffering such a serious injury can have a major impact on a player, both physically and mentally, but Ryan reveals that Leavy’s approach to his recovery has been world-class and that his positivity has played a major role in his successful recovery thus far.
“He’s actually been very well and he’s so positive, Leavy, and he’s so confident and that’s a massive strength of his because he just backs himself in absolutely everything. So even the rehab and even the early days, it was such a serious injury but his attitude and approach to it all was world-class.
“There were never any questions about how well his rehab was going to go. As far as he saw it, he was going to smash it all. I think that’s probably why it’s gone so well so far. He’s got a bit to go but he’s coming on really well and it’s down to his attitude and his work ethic.”