Saturday will see Leinster meet London Wasps for the first time since their heartbreaking Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat at Adam Park last year. Both sides have ‘moved on’ since then but will that last meeting have any bearing on the sold-out clash at the RDS?
HEINEKEN CUP – POOL 2: Saturday, October 18
LEINSTER v LONDON WASPS, The RDS, 5.30pm (live Sky Sports 2/HD2)
Team News: The Leinster team to face London Wasps in Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 clash at the RDS has been named.
Malcolm O’Kelly is the only change to the team that defeated Edinburgh 27-16 last weekend.
The Ireland lock has recovered from a neck injury and will partner skipper Leo Cullen in the Leinster second row.
Rocky Elsom, a try scorer against Edinburgh, again lines up in the back row alongside Shane Jennings and number 8 Jamie Heaslip.
The front row is also unchanged with Bernard Jackman at hooker and Stan Wright and CJ Van Der Linde the props.
Felipe Contepomi, Brian O’Driscoll and Shane Horgan were all try scorers last weekend and continue in a side that features 10 Ireland internationals.
Meanwhile, the selected Wasps team for Saturday’s encounter includes two Ireland-capped players – Jeremy Staunton at full-back and Eoin Reddan at scrum half.
Following last weekend’s victory over Castres Olympique at Adams Park, Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan has named an unchanged starting line-up for the meeting with Leinster.
It is a crunch tie in Pool 2 as the reigning Guinness Premiership champions take on the Magners League title holders.
McGeechan said: “Leinster are playing very well. They have a very strong side with some outstanding players and we know this will be our toughest challenge of the season so far.”
With the same team, Wasps’ only personnel switch is amongst the replacements. They welcome back Mark Van Gisbergen following his recovery from a medial knee ligament injury.
John Hart also takes the place of Samoan international Dan Leo.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney; Felipe Contepomi, Chris Whitaker; Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde, Leo Cullen (capt), Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Devin Toner, Stephen Keogh, Chris Keane, Jonathan Sexton, Gary Brown.
LONDON WASPS: Jeremy Staunton; Paul Sackey, Josh Lewsey, Riki Flutey, Tom Voyce; Danny Cipriani, Eoin Reddan; Tim Payne, Raphael Ibanez (capt), Phil Vickery, Simon Shaw, Tom Palmer, James Haskell, Tom Rees, Joe Worsley.
Replacements: Rob Webber, Pat Barnard, Richard Birkett, Serge Betsen, Mark Robinson, Mark Van Gisbergen, John Hart.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Neil Ballard, Jonathan Mason (both Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 4/9; Draw: 22/1; London Wasps to win: 7/4
Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “We know that it’s a very big game for us and we really have our vision fixed towards this match.
“The last meeting – the quarter-final in 2007 – was a big game for us and they went on to win the tournament that year.
“I don’t think that that Wasps game is out of date, but it’s got to be taken in context. It was two seasons ago.
“We both have obviously moved on and I watched their game (against Castres) last Sunday.
“You’ve got Eoin Reddan who is the Irish half-back and he’s a real threat also in the way he marshals the game.
“They have strength all over the park and that’s something we have to watch.
“Castres almost set up a tent in their own 22 and Wasps were unlucky not to get a bonus point last week. You could see that they were up for it, as were we with our result.
“We were happy with the win last week. We know we let our supporters down when we lost at home recently, so we want to win this week.
“We have to cope with Wasps’ physicality and we need to be urgent and accurate in everything we do because they’re a formidable side with a good history of playing cup rugby.
“I’ve watched all their games and if you look at them they’re a win or two off being in the top four (position) in their league.
“They’re a very strong team. In games like this, there’s going to be a lot more direct confrontation so what you need to do is take your opportunities when they come.”
Eoin Reddan (London Wasps) – “I am going back to my homeland and, yes, I will be judged.
“This is an important stage to perform on, but the game is more important than any individual because so much is riding on this one match.
“It’s huge for both teams in this tournament. I am not saying we would be out of things if we lost but it’s a massive opportunity to push on and put the pressure on Leinster for the rest of the pool matches.
“Leinster are an entirely different challenge because they are on fire at the moment and a great side.
“The Castres game was a ‘must win’ and I couldn’t wait for it to come along because I knew it would get everyone together.
“We are professionals and a proud bunch of guys and we are not happy with just raising our game for big ones like the Heineken Cup.
“That is something we are building towards after a shaky start and now the intensity is going to up again for Leinster.”
Heineken Cup Top Scorers – Leinster: Points: Felipe Contepomi 12; Tries: Rocky Elsom, Brian O’Driscoll, Felipe Contepomi, Shane Horgan 1 each; London Wasps: Points: Danny Cipriani 10; Tries: Paul Sackey, Josh Lewsey, Tom Voyce 1 each
Current Form – Leinster (Magners League): Drew 16-16 away to the Cardiff Blues; Won 52-6 at home to Edinburgh; Won 19-13 at home to the Ospreys; Lost 18-0 at home to Munster; Lost 19-18 away to Connacht; (Heineken Cup): Won 27-16 away to Edinburgh
London Wasps (Guinness Premiership): Lost 26-14 at home to London Irish; Lost 11-10 at home to Worcester Warriors; Lost 24-20 away to Northampton Saints; Won 28-19 away to Leicester Tigers; Lost 27-23 at home to Bath; (EDF Energy Cup): Lost 24-19 away to Gloucester; (Heineken Cup): Won 25-11 at home to Castres Olympique
Previous European Meetings: 1
Saturday, March 31, 2007 – Quarter-Final – London Wasps 35 Leinster 13, Adams Park
Heineken Cup Records:
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2006/07: Reached the quarter-finals
2005/06: Reached the semi-finals
2004/05: Reached the quarter-finals
2003/04: Failed to qualify from Pool 3
2002/03: Reached the semi-finals
2001/02: Reached the quarter-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1999/00: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
1998/99: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1997/98: Failed to qualify from Pool A
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool B
1995/96: Reached the semi-finals
London Wasps –
2007/08: Failed to qualify from Pool 5
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 6
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2001/02: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 2
1999/00: Reached the quarter-finals
1997/98: Reached the quarter-finals
1996/97: Failed to qualify from Pool D
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Leinster to win by more than 7 points