Byline: SHANE McGRATH
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL has admitted his Heineken Cup final hopes are 'in the balance' -- and Jono Gibbes warned that Leinster cannot risk any player who is not 100 per cent in the biggest game of their season. Gibbes said O'Driscoll's knee injury is Leinster's 'most concerning' problem ahead of Saturday. The captain's run on Friday is shaping up to be the first time this week O'Driscoll has a full training run-out, but Gibbes warned that Leinster will be loath to risk a player who isn't fully fit in their biggest game of the year -- even one as important as O'Driscoll. And the player himself admitted his fitness is far from certain. 'It's a bit 'TURN TO PAGE 63, COL 4
From Back Page in the balance for the weekend, I'm not training today and don't envisage doing much tomorrow,' said O'Driscoll last night. 'I have a chance later in the week to prove my fitness and I'll just have to take it day by day. It feels a bit better from Friday night, so I have to see if it steps up another level.
'Listen, you can't go stressing too much, what's going to be is going to be, you have to deal with it.' Gibbes said the player had a scan on the injured knee over the weekend and while no significant damage was done in the challenge against Ulster, a seven-day turnaround means Leinster are desperately short on recovery time. 'Drico is going to take the most time and is the most concerning of the lot,' said Gibbes of Leinster's walking wounded, the rest of whom are expected to be fit and ready come Saturday. 'He's got a few runs on the board so we can give him more time at the end of the week. But one of the positive spin-offs is that we've got guys like Ferg [McFadden] and Eoin O'Malley that can slot in and do a job if need be.
'Obviously the first couple of days will be just letting it settle down and get the inflammation out of it. He'll do non-weight bearing stuff on Wednesday and Thursday, and I would think at captain's run they'll have a look at him. The quality of the opposition that we're playing [means that] we need 100 per cent guys out there; they need to be ready to go, but Drico has had enough runs so that we can give him a space later in the week [to prove his fitness].' The centre looked on as Leinster trained yesterday, but the rest of the walking wounded in the squad are, according to Gibbes, making sure progress. Joe Schmidt had a smile on his face after the Ulster game when he described it as a 'demolition derby', but the ferocious nature of the exchanges in that game will mean a week of nervous waiting. …