Leinster Heineken Cup favourites despite Brian O’Driscoll injury
Leinster showed their Heineken Cup credentials remain amongst the strongest around on Friday with a 24-19 win against Munster in the Celtic League – despite the absence of talisman Brian O’Driscoll.
The result moves Leinster level on points with leaders Ospreys at the top of the RaboDirect Pro12 league but, with the Irish side beginning the defence of their Heineken Cup title in Montpellier next weekend, there are more pressing concerns for coach Joe Schmidt.
Leinster are the 7/2 favourites to become the first side since Leicester Tigers in 2002 to retain the Heineken Cup but they will have to do it without O’Driscoll.
The Ireland skipper is to go under the knife to fix a trapped shoulder nerve next week – a problem that has dogged him for several months and meant his preparations for Ireland’s unsuccessful World Cup campaign were severely hindered.
The surgery means means O’Driscoll will be missing for up to six months, ruling him out of a majority of the season for Leinster and all of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign.
Leinster begin their Heineken Cup defence against Montpellier at the weekend but they should still have enough to see off the 80/1 Heineken Cup outsiders even without O’Driscoll.
Meanwhile, Toulouse also completed a solid victory on Saturday as they beat Perpignan 21-17 thanks largely to the boot of All Black Luke McAlister who kicked six penalties in the win.
Toulouse are currently 7/2 joint favourites with Leinster to win the Heineken Cup and open their campaign with a game against Gloucester this Saturday.