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Contepomi Included In Extended Leinster Squad

Contepomi Included In Extended Leinster Squad

Argentinian World Cup star Felipe Contepomi is set to start for Leinster in their Heineken Cup pool opener against Leicester Tigers (The RDS, kick-off 1.30pm) on Saturday, having been named in the province’s extended squad for the game.

Having attended his brother’s wedding at the weekend, Contepomi returned to training in earnest with Leinster this week and has been named in the squad alongside the likes of captain Brian O’Driscoll and his fellow Ireland internationals Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Horgan, Bernard Jackman, Rob Kearney and Malcolm O’Kelly.

Leinster coach Michael Cheika will trim the squad down to the matchday 22 on Friday lunchtime.

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The extended squad also includes two more Ireland internationals – former Tigers duo Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings. Chris Whitaker and Ollie Le Roux – who have both been in fine recent form – are also included alongside prop Stephen Knoop who missed last weekend’s game through injury.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game, Leinster skipper O’Driscoll said: “I always look forward to a new Heineken Cup – the great thing about this competition is that it always adds new opportunities. fter the World Cup it is great to have such a tournament to look forward to and now you can really sense the excitement from everyone involved with the Heineken Cup as the start approaches.

“And while Leicester was always going to be difficult and a tough start for us, you can look at these things two ways. You are probably going to have to win eight out of nine games – the last three against some of the best teams that season – and, come May, the Heineken Cup winners will be worthy champions.

“It means that if you win your first game, possibly your first two, then you are sitting pretty and growing in confidence. But lose your first game and the pressure is immediately on and the likelihood in this Pool is lose two games and you will be out.

“We start with Leicester Tigers at home and then Toulouse away, so we couldn’t have asked for two tougher challenges to kick-off with. We know we are in one of the pools of death, but we also know that whoever comes out of the group will have a great chance to build on that success in the knockout phase.

“So it can work both ways for you – and I guess the message is don’t start slowly!”

Leinster will be boosted for the start of their campaign by the return of Felipe Contepomi, who a stunning World Cup with third place finishers Argentina, and O’Driscoll is looking for more of the same from the IRB Player of the Year nominee.

“Felipe had an excellent World Cup for Argentina and he has been excellent for Leinster for a number of years. Hopefully he can translate some of that form into an all blue jersey rather than a striped one,” O’Driscoll said.

“It is great to have a player of his calibre coming in even if he has not played for us yet this season. I am sure he won’t be short of fitness – and confidence oozes out of every pore of his body.”

LEINSTER Squad (v Leicester Tigers): Forwards (14) – Ollie Le Roux, Stan Wright, Brian Blaney, Bernard Jackman, Juan Francisco Gomez, Stephen Knoop, Leo Cullen, Cameron Jowitt, Malcolm O’Kelly, Stephen Keogh, Kevin McLaughlin, Keith Gleeson, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Backs (11) – Chris Whitaker, Cillian Willis, Felipe Contepomi, Jonathan Sexton, Christian Warner, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Shane Horgan, Girvan Dempsey.