Leinster sign an Irish international on loan to cover the front row

AFTER A YEAR away at London Irish, former Leinster prop Jamie Hagan is returning to his home province to provide front row cover until after Christmas. Leinster’s props have had bad injury luck this season with Cian Healy, Martin Moore and now Ed Byrne all facing sustained spells on the sidelines.

Byrne had impressed for the senior side this season but after injuring his knee, Leinster moved to secure the services of Hagan on a three month loan deal.

“Unfortunately Ed picked up a knock to his knee late in the Edinburgh game,” O’Connor said.

“We had to wait for the injury to settle but scans then confirmed that he had an ACL injury which will keep him sidelined for up to six months. He is due to undego surgery in Dublin tomorrow.”

While O’Connor was noticeably disappointed at the latest injury to hit his beleaguered squad, he also thinks he has a high caliber replacement in Hagan. The prop has played 27 times for London Irish since leaving Leinster and he trained with the rest of the squad today.

“A bloke who knows the environment and who has proven that he can do a job around the top level is going to be invaluable to us,” O’Connor said.

“I’m very positive about it and [London] Irish have been very supportive about it.”

While there was bad news on the health of the front row, the prognosis is considerably brighter for some of the other walking wounded. O’Connor mentioned a couple of high-profile names who Leinster fans will be delighted to see integrated back into the line-up over the next two weeks.

“Shane Jennings, Jordi Murphy, Dave Kearney and Fergus McFadden trained last week with us and again this week,” O’Connor said.

Dave Kearney is one player Leinster fans can expect to see in the next few weeks. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We can’t fit them all in but bodies are starting to return which is very pleasing coming into these league games and going into Europe. ”

As of today, no Leinster players have yet been released from the national set-up to take part in provincial action this week, and O’Connor said whether any international player takes part away to Treviso this Sunday would be judged on a case-by-case basis.

However, the Leinster coach was pleased with the progress he was able to make with the players who stayed behind over the last few weeks.

“We had a week off that first week and then we did some conditioning to try and put the bodies back together and get some physical gains in,” O’Connor said.

“We got a couple of rugby sessions in but thankfully we have a long week in to Treviso to get ready.”

In an odd turn of events, O’Connor’s two predecessors as Leinster coach, Joe Schmidt and Michael Cheika, will be going head-to-head when Ireland take on Australia at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.

O’Connor reckons Australia are in a good position due to Cheika’s knowledge of the Irish players and also thinks the squad he inherited was in a better position than was portrayed in the media.

“The result at the weekend [loss to France] will sharpen the focus of the Australians and I think Cheiks [Michael Cheika] has a pretty good idea of the Irish psyche which I think is an advantage,” O’Connor said.

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