Picturedabove: The New Zealand-based Stan Wright, who has signed a short termcontract with Leinster Rugby, has been included in an extended 24-man squad forthe province's Heineken Cup clash with Agen on Saturday.
The Cook Islandsprop, who stands at 6ft 1in and weighs upwards of 18 stone, has beensigned ahead of today's Heineken Cup deadline and is covering for theinjured Will Green and Fosi Pala'amo. The 28-year-old Wright has been aregular for Northland in the NPC for the past three seasons.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika watches his players go through their paces at Old Belvedere RFC. The Australian was "happy enough" with the 6-6 draw his side secured away to Ulster in the Magners League last Saturday.
He said: "The match was played in absolutely terrible conditions, theground was almost unplayable. I think we probably just deserved to winbut to get a draw at Ravenhill against the league leaders keeps them inour sights and we have to be confident coming off the back of that.
"But most of all, there were plenty of positivesfor us from the bigger pictures as we concentrate on Agen." Over thenext seven days, Cheika's men face Agen at Lansdowne Road (Saturday,kick-off 5.35pm), and at Stade Armandie (Saturday week, kick-off3.30pm).
Before last Christmas, Leinster also faced back-to-back games against French opposition - they beat Bourgoin 53-7 at home before losing 30-28 to them at the Stade Pierre Rajon, a week later.
Denis Hickie and Reggie Corrigan inthe early morning sunshine at Old Belvedere. If selected, Hickie, whoscored a try on his Ireland comeback against Australia last month, willmake his 50th Heineken Cup appearance against Agen this weekend.
The Dublin-born winger has scored 18 tries inhis 49 European outings to date - his last try being that unforgettableone in the quarter-final win over Toulouse last April. If he gets somegame-time against Agen, Corrigan, the experienced Greystones prop, willbecome Leinster's second most-capped player of all-time - so far he hasplayed 127 times for the province.
Leinster squad newcomer Stan Wright tackles Malcolm O'Kelly, Ireland'smost-capped player, during the training session. Wright has had a busy 2006 to date- he played in every NPC game for Northland and he scored the CookIslands' only try in their 77-10 Oceania World Cup qualifier defeat toTonga in June.
In previous seasons, he has also been capped for the Auckland Maori, Nortland Maori and the New Zealand Marist sides.
Number eight Jamie Heaslip, whowon his first Ireland cap last month against the Pacific Islanders,sees the funny side of things at training. The Kildare man will have todelay his forthcoming birthday celebrations - he turns 23 on December 15, just a day before Leinster's return clash with Agen.
Heaslip helps former Munster back rower Stephen Keogh getin some tackle practice. The 24-year-old Keogh started at blindsideflanker in both of Leinster's Heineken Cup games in October, scoring atry in their opening win over Gloucester.
Two of Leinster's young guns, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald take a breather at training. The duo will be hoping to test themselves against Agen's highly-rated Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca this weekend.
Cheika added: "Agen's win at Gloucester in the last round shows theycan play away from home and they ran the ball a fair bit at Kingsholm.Everyone knows what a threat Caucaunibuca can be but we also have acouple of decent wings ourselves!
"We'll miss the injured Will Green and coping with their big pack atthe set pieces will be a challenge, but in that respect it was theperfect hit-out for us in Belfast where I was really pleased with ourscrum and lineout against a very good Ulster pack. We've been uppingour intensity and improving all the time."
**All photos by Cathal Noonan of Inpho Photography**