Shane Horgan, Leinster’s try-scoring hero in last weekend’s win over Leicester Tigers, will become the province’s joint top caps holders in the Heineken Cup when he lines out in an unchanged team against Toulouse on Sunday night (Stade Ernest Wallon, kick-off 9pm local time).
The Pool 6 showdown will see Horgan make his 61st appearance and equal former captain Reggie Corrigan’s record mark in European competition. Horgan scored his 23rd Heineken Cup try in the 22-9 victory over Leicester Tigers last weekend.
Obviously pleased by his side’s display against the Tigers, Leinster coach Michael Cheika has made no changes to the panel from last week, which means that young winger Rob Kearney will make his 50th appearance for the province on the left wing, having only made his senior debut in September 2005.
The in-form Girvan Dempsey continues at full-back with skipper Brian O’Driscoll, a try scorer against Toulouse in Leinster’s 2006 quarter-final win, again partnering Gordon D’Arcy in midfield.
In the pack, Leinster’s front row combination of Ollie Le Roux, Bernard Jackman and Stan Wright continue after impressing last week, with Stephen Knoop still unavailable for selection after failing to shrug off an injury despite making every effort to prove his fitness in training this week.
Kearney could be joined by hooker Brian Blaney in reaching the half-century milestone should he come off a replacements bench which includes the likes of Kevin McLaughlin, Christian Warner and Luke Fitzgerald.
Leinster are expected to be boosted by a sizeable travelling support with well over 1,000 blue-clad supporters expected in the sell-out crowd on Sunday.
Giving his opinion on Sunday’s game and the Toulouse side, Cheika said: “We’ve had a look at the two league matches and the one Heineken Cup match that Toulouse have played and they’ve had different combinations in the 9/10 slot in every match.
“We’ve tried to profile each way they’ve played and they have a similar situation in the back row as well. We’ve got to prepare and see who they select and adapt accordingly. They have definitely strengthened themselves up front and then they’ve got a good second row. I don’t know whether (Fabien) Pelous is in the picture at the moment.
“They’ve got a lot of options and different challenges for our back three, that you’ve got to cater for and we know that they maul a lot and switch their ball around the back. But we have done our homework.
He added: “It’s a different kind of scouting mission this week. Toulouse and Leicester are two completely different teams. We’ve got a couple of our own defensive strategies that we would like to explore. The pool is one where you will have to take everything you can from everywhere you go.
“They’ll be expecting to win down there. I read some of the French press and they’re saying this is where their Heineken Cup begins. So we’ve got to take that intensity down with us on Sunday.”
LEINSTER (v Toulouse): 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, Shane Jennings, Keith Gleeson, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Juan Francisco Gomez, Cameron Jowitt, Kevin McLaughlin, Cillian Willis, Christian Warner, Luke Fitzgerald.