Picturedabove: Leinster coach Michael Cheika faces the press ahead of hisside's Heineken Cup Pool 2 match against French side Agen tomorrow(Lansdowne Road, kick-off 5.35pm).
Leinstercould go top of their pool tomorrow evening with a win in what is thefinal Heineken Cup game at the old Lansdowne Road. But Agen will be nopushovers - they claimed the scalp of Gloucester (away) last time outin Europe and possess one of world rugby's most enigmatic stars, Fijianwinger Rupeni Caucaunibuca.
Cheika said: "One thing for sure is that they will come out atus with everything. They're a strong group of players with a majorattacking weapon in Caucaunibuca. He is a brilliant talent but we can'tbuild a strategy to deal with him on his own.
"He's scored a lot of tries in the French championship over the lasttwo years, so there's no way you can devalue his talent. If we doubleor triple team him then we'll forget about the others. But we've got afew weapons of our own. Remember, he'll have to deal with Shane Horgan."
Australian-born flanker Keith Gleeson ishoping his consistent form for Leinster could help him work his wayback into the Ireland set-up. With competition for the back rowpositions so high, the 30-year-old has been overtaken in the opensidereckoning by Munster's David Wallace, who has a number of players, including Gleeson and Wasps' Johnny O'Connor, snapping at his heels.
Gleeson ended a two-year absence from the Irish teamwhen he was capped on last summer's tour to New Zealand and Australia,and he also played for Ireland 'A' against their Australiancounterparts last month.
He said: "I still want to play international rugby. I still want to bepart of the World Cup and the Six Nations. There's a lot of talentaround though, the provinces have good competition, and that's pushedup into the international side.
"From my point of view, I've just got to keep playing as well as I can, and if an opportunity comes my way, it comes my way."
Christian Warner will bebidding to impress in tomorrow's clash. The amiable Australian willpull the strings for Leinster at out-half, in the absence of theinjured Felipe Contepomi. Andy Dunne failed to make the most of his chance last week when he started at number 10 against Ulster.
Warner admitted: "This is a great opportunity for me. I'm lookingforward to playing because last year was a little bit disappointing interms of the (knee) injury. It was great to get the chance to playearly last year and work with Phil (Contepomi) at 12 and the more weplayed the better it was getting - the injury I got was very
"With Michael (Cheika) and David (Knox) coming over I knew the type ofrugby that they wanted to play and, with the calibre of players we havehere, I knew it would work."
Due to injuries and his failure to make squads, tomorrow will be Warner's first Heineken Cup start since January 2004 (against Biarritz).
Keith Gleeson, Michael Cheika and Christian Warner pose at Donnybrook with brochures for the 'Welcome Home' Charity's Christmas Appeal. The tireless Fr. Peter McVerry is the man behind the charity, which works with young homeless people in Dublin.
Pledging his support to the appeal, Cheika said: "It's easy to lose therun of yourself with the Heineken Cup, Magners League, Novemberinternationals or whatever else going on.
"Homelessness is something real in society that affects real people.Rugby is only a game after all. You've got to keep that sense ofperspective. Sadly there's a lot of people out there without homes, orwithout parents and I know how hard it can be living away from my ownfamily at Christmas.
"Welcome Home is an important charity for us to support, especially at Christmas time."
You can support the Welcome Home Christmas Appeal with a donation. The details are as follows: AIB, 69/71 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. Sort Code: 93-10-39, Account No: 30997143.
All eyes will be on Christian Warner whowill be hoping to make his mark in what is his first Heineken Cup gamein almost three years. His team-mate Gleeson reckons he will prosper atLansdowne Road in a 10-12-13 combination with Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll.
"Any side in the world would miss Felipe. He can be the pulse of the team, he can be brilliant," insisted Gleeson.
"But the reality is that you are never going to get through theHeineken Cup with all your players on board. It just means that otherplayers will have to take on a bit more responsibility, and we haveenough experience in the centre to help out Christian (Warner) atout-half."
Reflecting back on last week's 6-6 draw with league champions Ulster,Gleeson was pleased with how the Leinster pack fronted up, particularlyin the wintry conditions at Ravenhill.
"We really made a statement of how, when the going gets physical up front, we can play,"he said. "We didn't really have a choice as we were 40 minutes into agale force wind. If we kicked the ball away, or had turnovers, DavidHumphreys was going to crucify us.
"Sure, looking at the video, we did let some opportunities slip. Butthere are not too many teams who go to Ravenhill and get points offUlster. It was a good confidence booster for us."
**All photos by Dan Sheridan of Inpho Photography**