The stage is set for the return of the king. Leinster’s talismanic captain Brian O’Driscoll could make his seasonal reappearance on Saturday against Benetton Treviso.
The shackles are off Leinster’s internationals this week and O’Driscoll, along with fellow centres Gordon D’arcy and Fergus McFadden are in line for starting positions at the weekend, according to Leinster assistant coach Richie Murray.
“All the Ireland internationals, bar Seán O’Brien , are available but that doesn’t mean all of them will play It’s a case of trying to find the balance to what we had on the pitch in the last number of weeks and the lads coming back in.
“Over the next one to two weeks you should see most of the internationals back. It is a balancing act anyway as they can’t all play the next eight matches so it is about getting the mix right for our team and for the individual. The chances are really good that Brian will be back playing,” Murray said.
The gradual return of the Irish contingent is a welcome boost to Leinster who have suffered a number of serious injuries to senior players over the last couple of weeks.
On that front Joe Schmidt’s side have no fresh injury concerns after their comprehensive defeat of the Dragons at the RDS last Saturday.
Andrew Conway has a cut over his eye and Leo Auv’a has a minor knee problem but these are expected to clear up quickly.
Murray was pleased that the team managed a bonus point victory at home but feels that there is much more to come from the side.
“It was a good win at the weekend. Obviously we were very happy to get the five points but we are under no illusions. It was a big step forward from the week before but there is still plenty more to come and plenty of improvements to be made.”
The autumn weather in Treviso is more inviting than in Dublin but the beautiful conditions pose their own problems for players. Murray and the coaching staff will take account of the warm weather and make minor alterations to their pregame routine but they are confident that Leinster have the fitness to cope with the warm evening in the Stadio di Monigo on Saturday.
“The conditioning guys have done a great job with our players and their fitness levels are of a very high standard and everyone’s happy with where they are at.
I think it will be 25 or 26 degrees on Saturday. We are playing in the evening so it will come down a bit but it will still be very warm and sticky. We might just change slightly some of the stuff in our warm up. We might shorten it a little so players aren’t exposed to the heat as much and make sure that their hydration levels are good,” Murray added.