After getting back to winning ways in the Magners League last weekend against the Dragons, Leinster return to European action this Saturday trying to extend their lead at the top of Pool 2 with Castres Olympique the visitors to the RDS.
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 2: Saturday, December 6
LEINSTER v CASTRES OLYMPIQUE, The RDS, 1.35pm (live Sky Sports 2)
Team News: The Leinster team to face Castres Olympique in Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 encounter at the RDS has been named. 16,000 tickets have been sold for the game.
CJ Van Der Linde is one of four changes to the Leinster side that defeated the Newport Gwent Dragons 29-13 last weekend.
The South African World Cup-winning prop will start in the front row alongside Stan Wright and Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman.
Jamie Heaslip will done the number 8 jersey in a back row which includes Rocky Elsom and Sean O’Brien, who will be making his Heineken Cup debut.
In the back-line, Luke Fitzgerald returns to partner Brian O’Driscoll at centre with Rob Kearney coming onto the left wing.
LEINSTER: Girvan Dempsey; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Rob Kearney; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker (capt); Stan Wright, Bernard Jackman, CJ Van Der Linde, Devin Toner, Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Brian Blaney, Cian Healy, Trevor Hogan, Stephen Keogh, Chris Keane, David Holwell, Simon Keogh.
CASTRES OLYMPIQUE: Cameron McIntyre; Charles Sika, Steve Kefu, Lionel Mazars, Rafael Carballo; Anthony Lagardere, Kevin Senio; Gideon Lensing, Mathieu Bonello, Luc Ducalcon, Ludovic Michaux, Colin Gaston, Lei Tomiki, Darron Nell, Florian Faure.
Replacements: Akvsenti Giorgadze, Yannick Forestier, Fabio Staibano, Joe Tekori, Steve Malonga, Sebastien Tillous-Borde, Thomas Bouquie.
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Rob Dickson, Ronnie Dumma (both Scotland)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/40; Draw: 50/1; Castres Olympique to win: 10/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Michael Cheika (Leinster) – “You’ve got to plan over a couple of weeks at this time of year. Back-to-back games are very important in terms of how you manage them.
“I suppose the last piece of the puzzle is the way in which French teams administer their home and away games as well.’
“We’ve had some good experiences on back-to-back (games) and we’ve had some bad experiences in my time here, so we’ve got to make sure – like we said before the first game of the first block of European matches – that we win the two games in-a-row.
“We have now managed that three times out of nine and we will take each of these games as individual challenges so that we can try to make it the fourth time.
“Against Bourgoin we won by 50 here and lost by three (points) the week after. We played Agen and beat them here, probably not that convincingly, and then we beat them down there when we were a bit strung out for players.
“So we’ve had some good interesting back-to-backs and, of course, we had Edinburgh last year where we beat them here and lost to them up there.
“I’ve learned – and I hope that I have learned well – so that we can be prepared over the coming two games.
“We’ve just got to think about the home game first and build the intensity to the level that we want to perform to at home.
“We want to play a certain way in all of the games in Europe, so it just happens that we play the same team two weeks in-a-row, and the same challenges that are there for us will be the same for them.”
Heineken Cup Top Scorers – Current Season: Leinster: Tries: Brian O’Driscoll 3; Points: Felipe Contepomi 28; Castres Olympique: Tries: Lionel Nallet 1; Points: Cameron McIntyre 12
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; Won 41-11 at home to London Wasps; (Magners League): Lost 15-12 away to Glasgow Warriors; Won 29-13 at home to Newport Gwent Dragons
Castres Olympique – (Top 14): Lost 27-26 at home to Bayonne; Lost 32-17 away to Biarritz; Drew 16-16 away to Brive; Lost 19-11 at home to Dax; Won 12-6 at home to Clermont Auvergne; Lost 24-23 away to Montauban; Lost 28-10 at home to Toulouse; (Heineken Cup): Lost 25-11 away to London Wasps; Lost 13-6 at home to Edinburgh; (Top 14): Won 21-17 away to Toulon; Lost 31-26 at home to Montpellier; Won 26-6 at home to Mont-de-Marsan; Lost 19-12 away to Stade Francais; Lost 23-9 at home to Bourgoin
Previous European Meetings: 0
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
Castres Olympique –
2006/07: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2005/06: Failed to qualify from Pool 1
2004/05: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
2001/02: Reached the semi-finals
2000/01: Failed to qualify from Pool 4
1995/96: Failed to qualify from Pool D
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Leinster to win by more than 14 points