MUNSTER will be desperate to improve their disappointing record against Leinster in recent seasons when the arch rivals go head-to-head in the RaboDirect PRO12 at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday (6.30pm).
Munster have won just two of their last nine meetings with Leinster in all competitions and the Southern province has lost each of their three most recent meetings with the Heineken Cup champions at the Aviva Stadium.
Both provinces are smarting from heavy defeats in the PRO12 last weekend. Munster suffered a disappointing 15-point reverse at the hands of the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium, while Leinster shipped a heavy loss to Connacht at the Sportsground.
Meanwhile, Munster coach Rob Penney is hoping O’Connell may be fit to play some part in the province’s opening Heineken Cup fixture, against Racing Metro at Stade de France on Saturday week, October 13 (1.30pm Irish time).
Penney said: “Paul is making good progress. He will be ready when he is ready. We are not rushing him.
“He is doing some more work now and there is every chance of him being available very soon. When that point comes everyone will know.
“He is building nicely and we are just approaching every week as it comes with him.
“The important thing is that Paul comes back when he is able to contribute, feels good about himself and is able to have some longevity in a rugby jersey again rather than having two weeks in and a week out, three weeks on and another couple of weeks off. Hopefully, all the good work which is going on and behind the scenes will be great for his longevity.”
Munster scrum-halves Conor Murray, who received stitches to a cut above his eye which forced him off in the opening half against the Ospreys, and Peter Stringer, who suffered a calf injury in the game, are expected to be passed fit to face Leinster in Dublin on Saturday. Prop Marcus Horan, who sustained a facial cut playing for Shannon in the AIL against Young Munster is also expected to be available.
Johne Murphy (knee) and Luke O’Dea (ankle) are expected to take a full part in training this week, while recent shoulder injury victim Ian Nagle returned to training last week, but will be given a week or so before being made available for selection.
More than 40,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s showdown between the Irish rivals.