Leinster flanker Dan Leavy has made a welcome return to the training pitch as he steps up his recovery from a horror knee injury. The Ireland international has been sidelined for over a year after sustaining serious knee ligament damage during Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final defeat of Ulster in March 2019.

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It was a second injury setback in quick succession for Leavy, who was 24 at the time.

The Leinster academy graduate had only returned from an injury which saw him miss all of Ireland’s 2019 Six Nations campaign.

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Leavy was a key member of the Ireland team that enjoyed huge success in 2018, when Joe Schmidt’s squad won the Six Nations and recorded a first series win in Australia for 39 years.

In his 11 international caps to date, Leavy has never been on the losing side.

That same year, Leavy was instrumental as Leinster recorded a Pro14 and Champions Cup double.

Yet a stunning 2018 was followed by a devastating 2019. After missing Ireland’s Six Nations defence with a calf injury, Leavy left the pitch on a stretcher just 11 minutes after being introduced in the second-half of the Champions Cup win against Ulster.

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The injury ruled Leavy out for the entire 2019/20 season – including the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Having damaged his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, there were even fears for Leavy’s career.

But Leinster have now issued a positive update on the player, posting a picture of Leavy back on the training pitch with ball in hand.

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Leinster are due to take on Munster at the Aviva Stadium on August 22 when the Guinness Pro14 returns.

The province have been cleared to enter the next phase of their return to rugby, which includes a graduated return to contact training, after the IRFU confirmed that both Leinster and Munster had returned zero positive results from the latest round of Covid-19 testing.

It is still not clear when we can expect to see Leavy back in competitive action, but this latest step is a much-welcome milestone for a player who had been highly influential for both Leinster and Ireland.

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