Felipe Contepomi, one of Argentina’s World Cup stars and an IRB Player of the Year nominee, will make his seasonal bow for Leinster tomorrow having been named in the province’s team for their Heineken Cup clash with Leicester Tigers (The RDS, kick-off 1.30pm).
Contepomi, who is six points shy of 300 Heineken Cup career points (which includes 73 points gained during his spell with Bristol), will partner former Wallaby Chris Whitaker at half-back for the sold-out game.
Gordon D’Arcy – fresh from his two-try haul in last Friday’s 29-9 Magners League win over Connacht – partners Leinster captain Brian O’Driscoll at centre with an all-Ireland international back three of Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan and Rob Kearney, who starts on the left wing.
In the pack, ex-Leicester Tiger Leo Cullen lines up in the second row alongside Malcolm O’Kelly while Ireland’s Keith Gleeson comes in for Stephen Keogh, who picked up an injury in an accidental collision in training during the week, in the back row. The front row remains unchanged from last week, meaning former Springbok Ollie Le Roux will make his Heineken Cup debut.
Another ex-Tiger – Shane Jennings – will make his 50th Leinster appearance in the back row alongside Gleeson and the province’s Bank of Ireland Player of the Month Jamie Heaslip.
Speaking at this week’s Heineken Cup launch in Dublin, Leinster coach Michael Cheika said: “We’re gaining confidence week by week. Leicester have strength all over the park and were impressive at the weekend when they hammered Cardiff. Everyone talks about their pack but they have a very good back-line also, some good footballers and big wingers and I think (their out-half) Andy Goode is a really good player.
“But we’re not a bad side ourselves. And we have Felipe back this week. After his World Cup exploits with Argentina we had to handle Felipe carefully. He is the type of player who always gives 100 per cent and we wanted to freshen him up mentally.
“I also think we have the best pack in my time at Leinster. You can see the confidence growing, the challenge is there for us. It’s all about belief.”
LEINSTER (v Leicester Tigers): Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Gordon D’Arcy, Rob Kearney; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen, Malcolm O’Kelly, Keith Gleeson, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Juan Francisco Gomez, Cameron Jowitt, Kevin McLaughlin, Cillian Willis, Christian Warner, Luke Fitzgerald.