10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
He is part of a select band of players who have lined out for both Munster and Leinster, and Stephen Keogh, this week, gave an insight into life on the blue side.
The tough-tackling back row made 54 appearances for Munster, including two as captain and three as a substitute in the men in red's Heineken Cup odyssey last season.
Leinster lured Keogh, along with lock Trevor Hogan, from the south this past summer, and while currently in a honeymoon period, the duo will certainly come in for plenty of analysis (self or otherwise) over the next seven weekends.
In that time, Michael Cheika's men will face the Cardiff Blues, Llanelli Scarlets, Connacht, Munster and the Borders in the Magners League before opening their European account for 2006/07 against Gloucester and the Edinburgh Gunners.
Life in the capital city is admittedly good for Keogh, who racked up a half century of caps for Munster despite only turning 24 in May. The differences, he says, between the Munster and Leinster set-ups are few.
"The attitude of the Leinster players is just the same (as down in Munster). Dublin is obviously a bit different from Limerick - with the traffic - and maybe the culture of going for coffee after training is a small bit different," he admitted wryly with a smile.
"But I don't see many differences in the training - the competitive edge is just the same."
Keogh made his competitive debut for Leinster in last week's 20-14 defeat to Edinburgh, and is quickly adapting to the province's game plan and open style. Look for more of the same as the Lions look to claw the Cardiff Blues out of sight at Donnybrook on Saturday (kick-off 7.30pm).
"Leinster probably like to play maybe a more expansive game, which we have to get a mix between the two really - between playing the game direct and playing the game wide when we get our opportunities," Keogh said.
"But definitely some of the Leinster players are undoubtedly as physical as the Munster guys. But I suppose (with) different coaches, and different teams, there's always going to be a small bit of difference."
Cheika will be looking to Keogh to continue his role as one of Leinster's enforcers in the pack. At Murrayfield, Leinster were notably more aggressive and punchy up front.
The Leinster boss said: "Last week there were positives in areas that traditionally weren't perceived as being our strengths before. I thought we were physical and they had a lot of ball that we stole well.
"We were aggressive in our rucking, counter-rucking and in defence, which was pleasing. There will be mistakes early on in any season and we'll be looking to rectify them, beginning with our first home game against Cardiff."