Head coach Leo Cullen has said that Sean O’Brien and Robbie Henshaw are “making good progress” and that Johnny Sexton is “a couple of weeks away” from making a return to action as Leinster look ahead to the opening game of the new Guinness PRO12 campaign at home to Benetton Treviso at the RDS Arena on Friday night (KO 7.35pm).

Speaking to the media in Leinster HQ on Monday afternoon, Cullen also provided an update on the fitness of the trio.

“Johnny is making good progress. He’s a couple of weeks away, probably,” Cullen said. “Robbie and Sean, post their surgeries – Robbie had his operation after the (Ireland) tour – they’re making good progress. You’re probably looking at six weeks with Robbie. Seanie had his surgery at the end of the last season. It was probably the most major of the surgeries out of the three of them. He’s probably on a similar timeline to Robbie at the moment.”

Asked whether Henshaw and O’Brien would be available for the start of Leinster’s Champions Cup campaign at home to Castres Olympique on 15th October, Cullen said he was “hopeful” that the duo would be fit.

“We’ll see what’s best for them. We’re just making sure they get back correctly and we’re not putting them at risk. They’re making really good progress the two of them. You would hope to have them available, but if they’re not right, they’re not right.”

Last Friday’s Bank of Ireland Pre-season Friendly against Bath in Donnybrook saw Cian Healy, Rob Kearney and Mike McCarthy all return to action, with Cullen pleased to welcome three experienced players back into the mix.

“Those guys came through well. Rob played at the end of the season, but he pulled out of the tour. He’s looking really sharp in training. It was great to get through 40 minutes. Those guys are up and running, so there’s three pretty experienced guys back now.”

Reflecting on the Bank of Ireland Pre-season Friendlies as a whole, Cullen was pleased to give game time to so many Academy players, though the head coach lamented the injuries picked up over the course of the month.

“A lot of Academy players played in the three games. It’s a mixed bag some of those pre-season games. Ideally we don’t want to pick up too many injuries. We lost Billy Dardis in the first game. We lost Ian Fitzpatrick in training in the week of the second game, and then we lost Jack Conan as well – he’s having a procedure done on his ankle today. They’re the things that you’re trying to avoid, but with the nature of the game it’s an impossibility. We’re just trying to manage the guys the best we can.”

Leinster return to the RDS Arena this Friday! Tickets are available from €;20 for Adults and €;10 for Juniors. Click here to purchase.

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