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In Pics: Leinster Squad Training

In Pics: Leinster Squad Training

Ahead of their Heineken Cup quarter-final trip to Toulouse, the Leinster squad trained today on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road. Click here for photos.

Pictured above: Leinster captain Brian O’Driscoll in high spirits at Lansdowne Road. Fresh from skippering Ireland to a second Triple Crown in three seasons, the 27-year-old will hope the winning trend continues when the province visit Toulouse’s Stadium Municipal this Saturday (kick-off 3.00pm).

O’Driscoll made a bilstering return to Heineken Cup rugby in January as, following his recovery from a dislocated shoulder, he scored two tries against Glasgow at the RDS and put in a man-of-the-match display in Leinster’s 35-23 win over Bath at the Rec – with a try to boot.

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Gordon D’Arcy flights a pass away at training. The Wexford man also got amongst the tries during Leinster’s run in the pool stages – he touched down against Glasgow and Bourgoin (twice) to take his Heineken Cup tally to 18 tries in 40 games. That haul includes a try as a winger against Toulouse (at Donnybrook) in September 2001.

Leinster coach Michael Cheika, a noted back row in his playing days with Randwick, NSW Waratahs and Livorno, gets involved in the play. The Australian also has experience of playing in France as he had spells with Castres Olympique and CASG Paris during his career.

Oh no you don’t – Brian O’Driscoll comes up against his coaches David Knox and Michael Cheika during a training match.

Cheika said of Saturday’s mouth-watering quarter-final against the three-time Heineken Cup champions: “It’s a great opportunity for us. Look, if you want to learn and get better you’ve got to play the best and Toulouse are pretty much categorised as the best team around.”

Shane Horgan, Ireland’s two-try hero against England, fields a pass at training. The Drogheda-born centre-cum-winger has arguably been Irish rugby’s form back of late. Horgan scored three tries in Leinster’s final two Heineken Cup pool games against Glasgow and Bath (2), and three in Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations campaign – finishing as the tournament’s joint-top try scorer alongside Italian centre Mirco Bergamasco.

Eric Miller goes through some stretches at Lansdowne Road. Miller will hope Saturday does not mark his last European appearance in the blue of Leinster – the dynamic back row is to see out his contract with the province before retiring from all rugby at the end of the season.

The 30-year-old former Lion has made 50 Heineken Cup appearances – including twelve for Leicester Tigers between 1996 and 1998, and six for Ulster during the 1999/2000 season.

Number 8 Jamie Heaslip, still in only his first full-time season, packs down for a scrummaging session. Asked about his international ambitions, the 22-year-old said in a recent interview with the Kildare Nationalist: “I’m very impatient. I like things to happen quickly. But if it happens (with Ireland), it happens. My real focus right now is to beat Toulouse in the quarter-final and whatever happens after that is a bonus.

“The World Cup next year, you’d obviously keep half an eye on it, but there’s not a lot I can do. If I get picked, I get picked, if I don’t…well, it’s not up to me to pick the team. It comes down to the head boys up there, who they want and what game they want to play.”

Scrum half Guy Easterby throws a pass out as the rain begins to spit down on the back pitch. Easterby was Leinster’s number 9 for last year’s quarter-final defeat to Leicester at Lansdowne Road, and following his recovery from a broken jaw, he regained the shirt from Brian O’Riordan for the province’s final four games of this season’s pool stages.

**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**