Exciting talent Rob Kearney, who has captained Ireland at Schools and Under-19 level, is one of four debutants included in the Leinster side for Sunday’s Celtic League visit to the Ospreys.
Leinster Academy member Rob Kearney
Exciting talent Rob Kearney, who has captained Ireland at Schools and Under-19 level, is one of four debutants included in the Leinster side for Sunday’s Celtic League visit to the Ospreys (Morfa Stadium, kick-off 5.10pm, live Setanta Sports).
Australian Michael Cheika’s first competitive game in charge will tell much as to the depth of the current Leinster squad. There will be no stiffer test in Celtic rugby this season than an outing against the reigning champions at their new 18,000-capacity home ground in Swansea.
Lyn Jones’ side did the double on Leinster last season, so it will be interesting to see how Cheika’s blend of old and new can fare against the Welsh region – especially with newcomers like props Ronan McCormack and Will Green, hooker Bernard Jackman and winger-for-the-day Kearney, who usually occupies the full-back role for UCD and Ireland, in for the start. It’s an entirely new front row for Leinster as former skipper Reggie Corrigan is currently nursing a hand injury.
The much touted Kieran Lewis, meanwhile, will have a rare enough opportunity to impress at outside centre with his midfield partner Felipe Contepomi captaining the province in Brian O’Driscoll’s injury-enforced absence.
Up front, Des Dillon and Eric Miller come in for their first starts of the season.
The Ospreys, who are yet to confirm their starting line-up, are unbeaten in their last nine League encounters.
OSPREYS Squad: Backs: Stefan Terblanche, Richard Mustoe, Sonny Parker, Leigh Davies, Andrew Bishop, Aled Brew, Matthew Jones, Jason Spice, Rhodri Wells, Shaun Connor.
Forwards: Andrew Lloyd, Steve Tandy, Alan Wyn-Jones, Lee Beach, Ian Evans, Lyndon Bateman, Andrew Newman, Andrew Millward, Duncan Jones, Paul James, Barry Williams (Capt), Huw Bennett.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Brendan Burke, Kieran Lewis, Felipe Contepomi (Capt), Rob Kearney; Christian Warner, Brian O’Meara; Ronan McCormack, Bernard Jackman, Will Green, Des Dillon, Ben Gissing, Ciaran Potts, Keith Gleeson, Eric Miller.
Replacements: Emmett Byrne, David Blaney, Simon Crawford, Jamie Heaslip, Guy Easterby, Eoghan Hickey, Gary Brown.
Referee: Rob Dickson (Scotland)