Third-place finishers last season, Leinster, under the baton of Australian Michael Cheika, will be out to put a number of high profile player departures behind them in 2005/06.
Michael Cheika points the way for Leinster
Third-place finishers last season, Leinster, under the baton of Australian Michael Cheika, will be out to put a number of high profile player departures behind them for 2005/06.
Head Coach: Michael Cheika; Assistant Coaches: David Knox, Roly Meates, Gerry Murphy
Captain: Brian O’Driscoll
Founded: 1879; Ground: Donnybrook (Capacity 7,500); Sponsors: Bank Of Scotland (Ireland)
Transfers: In: Will Green (prop, London Wasps), Ronan McCormack (prop, Ulster), Bernard Jackman (hooker, Connacht), Adam Byrnes (lock/flanker, Eastern Suburbs, Australia)
Out: Shane Jennings (Leicester Tigers), Leo Cullen (Leicester Tigers), David Quinlan (Northampton Saints), Aidan McCullen (Toulouse), David Holwell (Northland), Shane Byrne (Saracens), Ricky Nebbett (NEC Harlequins), Gavin Hickie (unattached), John McWeeney (unattached), Peter Coyle (unattached), Victor Costello (retired)
2005/06 Squad: Brian Blaney, David Blaney, Gary Brown, Brendan Burke, Emmett Byrne, Adam Byrnes, Felipe Contepomi, Reggie Corrigan, Simon Crawford, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Des Dillon, Guy Easterby, Ben Gissing, Keith Gleeson, Will Green, Jamie Heaslip, Eoghan Hickey, Denis Hickie, Shane Horgan, Bernard Jackman, Kieran Lewis, John Lyne, David McAllister, Ronan McCormack, Eric Miller, James Norton, Brian O’Driscoll, Malcolm O’Kelly, Brian O’Meara, Brian O’Riordan, Ciaran Potts, Niall Ronan, Christian Warner, Johnny Wickham
Average Age: 26
Celtic League History:
2001/02: Winners (Final: 24-20 v Munster); 2002/03: Fifth (Pool B); 2003/04: Eighth; 2004/05: Third
Top Points Scorer: Brian O’Meara (331)
Top Try Scorers: Denis Hickie (18), James Norton (12)
Top Kicker (Conversions, Penalties): Brian O’Meara (126)
2005/06 Odds To Win: 13/2 (Paddy Power)
Players To Watch:
Felipe Contepomi: Ready to assume the place-kicking mantle of the departed David Holwell, the Argentinean international is a player of undoubted talent, and an extended run in the side could see him become the backline general. Cheika has also opted to use Contepomi as a sometime captain.
Kieran Lewis: On the cusp of the Ireland squad, the versatile Lewis could have a big year, with his place in the pecking order of centres helped by the departure of David Quinlan to Northampton and captain Brian O’Driscoll’s untimely injury.
Jamie Heaslip: This season is a big one for the Trinity tyro with the burgeoning talent. Nominated for the IRB’s Young Player of the year award in 2004 after captaining Ireland to the Under-21 World Cup final, Heaslip, to a lot of people’s minds, is the ideal number 8 replacement for the retired Victor Costello.
Coach Speak: Michael Cheika: “It is important that we are successful in the Celtic League and it’s important to combine both the League and Heineken Cup so that we can strive for consistency.
“The new guys have settled in really well and are working hard.”