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Magners Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

Magners Preview: Cardiff Blues v Leinster

Leinster will get their Magners League title defence up and running on Saturday with a mouth-watering clash with the Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park, where the province ran out 30-19 victors on their last visit.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, September 6

CARDIFF BLUES v LEINSTER, Arms Park, 6.30pm (live Setanta Sports Ireland/S4C)

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Team News: The Leinster team to face the Cardiff Blues in Saturday’s Magners League opener at the Arms Park has been named.

Isa Nacewa will make his debut for the province after being named in an unchanged line-up from the side that started last weekend’s 48-19 pre-season friendly victory over the Queensland Reds.

Nacewa has been named in a back-line that includes Brian O’Driscoll and Felipe Contepomi who will resume their centre partnership.

Ireland internationals Shane Horgan and Rob Kearney have been named on either wing. Chris Whitaker captains the side in the injury-enforced absence of Leo Cullen.

In the pack, Cameron Jowitt will feature in a dynamic-looking back-row alongside Ireland internationals Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip.

Meanwhile, Leinster Academy graduate Sean O’Brien could be one of two potential debutants should he be called upon in the Welsh capital alongside summer signing and former Ireland ‘A’ captain John Fogarty.

Prop Stephen Knoop has recovered from illness to take his place on a replacements bench which includes Ireland trio Trevor Hogan, Luke Fitzgerald and Girvan Dempsey.

Meanwhile, out-half Nicky Robinson will become only the second player to reach 100 games for the Blues when they take on the Magners League champions this weekend.

He made his debut for the Blues in September 2003 against Glasgow, scoring one conversion and two penalties. He has gone on to be the team’s highest points scorer, scoring 623 points.

Coach David Young’s team selection also sees Jamie Roberts starting at number 12 and Richard Mustoe starting on the wing for his first competitive appearance for the Blues.

CARDIFF BLUES: Ben Blair; Richard Mustoe, Tom Shankin, Jamie Roberts, Chris Czekaj; Nicky Robinson, Jason Spice; Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Williams, Taufa’ao Filise, Bradley Davies, Paul Tito (capt), Maama Molitika, Martyn Williams, Andy Powell.

Replacements: Gary Powell, Rhys Thomas, Scott Morgan, Ben White, Darren Allinson, Ceri Sweeney, Jamie Robinson.

LEINSTER: Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker (capt); Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Ronan McCormack, Devin Toner, Malcolm O’Kelly, Cameron Jowitt, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Stephen Knoop, Trevor Hogan, Sean O’Brien, Chris Keane, Luke Fitzgerald, Girvan Dempsey.

Referee: Andy Macpherson (Scotland)
Touch Judges: David Bodilly, Jon Mason (both Wales)

Say What: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “Cardiff had a big win last weekend against Northampton (43-13) and it’s always tough down there. So it’s a matter of how we set ourselves up as a team, then the strategy that we take into the game.

“We need to be better in our defence than we were (against Queensland) last Saturday. But it was good that players are starting to get into the routine of playing 60, 70 and 80 minutes.

“Isa (Nacewa) is a quality player and he brings a lot of versatility to the team. We were able to play three different five-eights in the Queensland game.

“I think Fergus McFadden has done well in the (pre-season) trials this year. He has been secure in his role and he has worked on the things that he probably didn’t do as well in Italy.

Sean O’Brien was very good as well while Luke (Fitzgerald) did some good things too, so we’ve got more young players that we will probably need to give a run to further down the track.

“We have a bit of a problem at tighthead with CJ (Van Der Linde) getting suspended, Stan Wright has an injury and Stephen Knoop being ill in the build-up to last weekend.

Ronan McCormack did a great job against Queensland, but we’ll just have to assess things and move on from there.”

David Young (Cardiff Blues) – “The two wins in our friendly matches included some good tries so we can start our season with a bit of confidence, which is what we need going into massive games against Leinster, the Ospreys and Ulster.

“Leinster won the Magners League last season and were deserved winners, who did the double over us.

“They certainly haven’t rested on their laurels. They’ve gone out and recruited and I’m sure they’ll be looking to retain their title.

“Saturday’s match will be a massive challenge for us. It will be interesting to see how much Leinster have improved and to find out over the season if there are better squads out there than ours.

“I’m confident in our squad, and have huge belief in them, but at the end of the day it’s up to the players to go out there and demonstrate that themselves.”

Top Scorers: 2007/08 Magners League – Points: Cardiff Blues: Ben Blair 89; Leinster: Felipe Contepomi 126; Tries: Cardiff Blues: Tom James 9; Leinster: Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan 6 each.


Saturday, October 15, 2005 – Leinster 34 Cardiff Blues 15, RDS
Sunday, May 14, 2006 – Cardiff Blues 40 Leinster 31, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, September 16, 2006 – Leinster 16 Cardiff Blues 9, Donnybrook
Friday, May 11, 2007 – Cardiff Blues 27 Leinster 11, Arms Park
Friday, September 28, 2007 – Cardiff Blues 19 Leinster 30, Arms Park
Saturday, February 16, 2008 – Leinster 24 Cardiff Blues 17, RDS


– The Cardiff Blues entertain the current Magners League champions on the first weekend of the new season for a second successive year – twelve months ago the Ospreys visited the Arms Park and were beaten 17-15 (the only
previous occasion that the defending champions have lost the first game of their defence)

– The Blues concluded last season with five successive Magners League victories. Another win for them would tie the Cardiff record for consecutive league victories, set in the 2005/06 season

– Defending champions Leinster ended last season with back-to-back away defeats, but won 30-19 the last time they visited the Arms Park. They also completed a season’s double over the Blues last term