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Leinster Welcome Back O’Driscoll And Company

Leinster Welcome Back O’Driscoll And Company

Brian O’Driscoll and his Ireland back-line colleagues Girvan Dempsey and Gordon D’Arcy will all return to the Leinster line-up tomorrow night when Michael Cheika’s men clash with Ulster at Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm).

O’Driscoll starts at outside centre and is partnered by D’Arcy in a back-line which also sees Dempsey return from World Cup duty and former Wallaby scrum half Chris Whitaker return from injury.

In the pack, the fit-again Leo Cullen partners Malcolm O’Kelly in the second row while Jamie Heaslip also returns from injury to start at number eight in a back row that includes Stephen Keogh and Shane Jennings.

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Ollie Le Roux will make his debut for the province after arriving from South Africa last week and is named in a front row which includes Bernard Jackman and Stephen Knoop.

Ireland flanker Keith Gleeson is named on a strong replacements bench which also includes the likes of Stan Wright and Ireland-capped winger Luke Fitzgerald.

Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated Ravenhill encounter, experienced lock O’Kelly said: “All the international players are keen to get back involved with a winning set-up after a disappointing last couple of weeks.

“There are some new faces, who all look to have settled in well, and Ollie Le Roux brings with him a wealth of experience. He’s a good guy, and he’s not short of a new words – which is no bad thing – so I’m sure he’ll be a good addition to the squad.

“Obviously the likes of Leo (Cullen) and Jenno (Shane Jennings) would have been familiar with the set-up from their previous spell and they can also contribute in terms of the experience they gained with Leicester. So, all in all, it makes for a competitive squad.”

O’Kelly is expecting a stiff challenge from Ulster, who will be all out to get back to winning ways after three consecutive defeats.

“Ulster are a strong and a proud team and we’re expecting a tough game, irrespective of league positions. Ulster’s backs are to the wall so that makes them dangerous opponents, but we have a good record up in Belfast,” he added.

“We’ve won most of our games over the last few years – bar the 6-6 draw last season – so we can take some confidence into the game. The crowd will be up for it and it all makes for an exciting game.

“For those of us who were disappointed with how the World Cup went, it’s fantastic to come into a fresh squad without any baggage. I think we’re all relishing the opportunity to play for Leinster again ahead of a big period for the province, starting with tomorrow night’s game.”

LEINSTER (v Ulster): Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker; Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman, Stephen Knoop, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O’Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Brian Blaney, Stan Wright, Devin Toner, Keith Gleeson, Cillian Willis, Christian Warner, Luke Fitzgerald.