Tadhg Furlong is on track to make his first appearance of the season for Leinster in next week's trip to face Connacht.

Aside from those who were injured in the off-season, Furlong is the only one of the province's international contingent yet to feature this season, with the tighthead not included in the squad for tomorrow's BKT United Rugby Championship meeting with the Sharks at the RDS.

However, head coach Leo Cullen says the 29-year-old is on course to be available for selection in next Friday's Round 5 meeting with Connacht.

"He trained pretty much fully this week, so he should be close to featuring next week," Cullen said of Furlong.

The Leinster coach has made four changes to his side following last week's win against Ulster, with Johnny Sexton drafted in to make his first start of the campaign, having featured off the bench at Kingspan Stadium last week, helping them see out a 20-13 win.

The province have been able to pick from a settled squad in recent weeks, particularly in the pack, where Will Connors is the only fresh face from last week's win in Belfast, and Cullen says it's important to be able to have cohesion in their selection early in the season.

"The cohesion does help for sure, we probably chop and change our team more than most, but we've opted for a bit of cohesion because with the structure of the season, you have 18 URC games, and you have this block at the start of the season.

"There'll be different stages of the season where players will be missing, but there's not much margain for error when it comes to 18 games.

"We think we've got a good group there, they're all hungry to kick on, play, well and perform well. Sharks won't make it easy, but from our point of view we've had a decent week's training.

"Excited to get going again, but great to get Johnny [Sexton] back," he added.

Tomorrow's visitors, the Sharks, are without their frontline Springbok players who were involved in the Rugby Championship, but have made a good start to the season, winning their opening two games away from home against Zebre and Dragons.

The South Africans have some inside knowledge on Leinster, with their attack coach Noel McNamara a former academy chief at Leinster, and head coach of Ireland U20.

And Cullen said the Durban side will have nothing to lose at the RDS.

"They've had their two wins on the road already. They've had a group, minus their international group, a good strong group that works together, so the cohesion for them is good.

"They've so much depth across the board, like all the South African teams do, but the Sharks in particular, so when they're missing their nine or 10 Springboks, they still have real quality to call upon.

"It's going to be a good challenge for us. They have two wins, nine points already, so it's a nothing to lose-type game for them.

"And they have a different group back in South Africa getting ready for Glasgow next week, I'm sure all their guys will be looking to put their hands up for future games."

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