JAMES Ryan has emerged as an injury doubt for Leinster’s crunch Champions Cup tie with Lyon on Saturday but Johnny Sexton is unlikely to see action before the start of the Six Nations.
Ryan was replaced midway through Saturday’s 54-7 win over Connacht with a calf injury and will be monitored during the week.
Sexton has stepped up his training workload this week as he continues to recover from a medial ligament injury picked up against Northampton Saints last month.
There was welcome news for Leo Cullen as Joe Tomane marked his return to action with a try following a two-month lay-off with a hamstring injury.
The 17-times-capped Australian went under the knife to repair an injury sustained in early November and made an earlier-than-expected return to action for the first game of the year.
Tomane crossed the line to seal the quickest-ever try bonus point in Pro 14 history after just 19 minutes – beating Glasgow Warriors’ previous record by four minutes.
By then, Max Deegan, Dave Kearney and Ciaran Frawley had already skipped over the whitewash – Deegan after just 103 seconds – as the home side ran riot in the opening quarter.
A fifth try from scrum-half Luke McGrath and Deegan’s second of the game saw Leinster stretch out a 40-point lead by half time, the only negative being Ryan’s withdrawal.
Garry Ringrose added two further tries in the second half before Tom McCartney belated crossed for a consolation try for the visitors.
After a trio of interpro victories over the Christmas period, focus now returns to Europe and the visit of Lyon, who sit second in the Top 14 having led for much of the season.
The first meeting between the sides, in Lyon in November, was an armwrestle that saw Leinster emerge 13-6 winners thanks to Deegan’s early try.
Four consecutive victories means Leinster have already secured qualification as group winners, but Cullen is not prepared to rest on his laurels just yet.
There is still seeding to play for, and defeat would put Leinster’s hopes of securing a home quarter final in peril ahead of the final group game away to Benetton Treviso.
“We had a close game over there,” Cullen said following the victory over Connacht.
“Let’s jog our memories about what was good in that game. We’ll put a plan in place that we think will be good enough to stretch Lyon a bit more.
“It’s about trying to maximise every point we can get out of the game. They’re still fighting for their lives in this competition.
“It’s understanding the motivation of the team we’re playing against, understanding the threats they have.
“We talked about it all the way through the pools. You qualify from your own pool but then you start competing against the teams in the other pools.
“Now, not actually competing against the teams in our own pool, we’re competing against the other pools.”
Along with Sexton, Michael Bent (calf), Rory O’Loughlin (shoulder), Rónan Kelleher (hand), Vakh Abdaladze (back), Jack Conan (foot), Barry Daly (knee) and Dan Leavy (knee) are all unavailable.