The Leinster squad to face Connacht in Friday night’s eagerly-awaited Magners League clash at the RDS (kick-off 7.30pm) has been named.
Ireland internationals Shane Horgan, Shane Jennings and Brian O’Driscoll all return to the Leinster squad for Friday’s interprovincial derby.
South African prop CJ Van Der Linde is also included in the panel after missing last weekend’s 21-13 victory over Ulster.
Gordon D’Arcy, who made his 138th Leinster appearance in his comeback game against Ulster, and Leinster’s most-capped player Malcolm O’Kelly (154 caps) have also made the squad.
Speaking ahead of the Connacht game, Leinster coach Michael Cheika said that he is pleased to welcome back some players for what will be another massive Interprovincial encounter.
“Connacht are going to be full of confidence and they always play very well against us. I’m not surprised at the Munster result because it’s a difficult place to go to and we’re feeling a fair bit of pressure from the last defeat,” he said.
“The challenge for us will be to practice the plan this week to try and nullify their threat. They’re very physical and from my own personal experience these are always tough, tight games.
“Though we weren’t as fluent attacking wise against Ulster, I was very pleased with the result. It was Isa (Nacewa’s) first game in the hot seat at 10 and it was also good to have Gordon (D’Arcy) back for the first time this year.
“We weren’t expecting him to play the whole game, but his work-rate, energy and physicality was there.
“He was very confident going into the game and it was good to see him come straight into it.”
Girvan Dempsey injured his ankle in the win over Ulster but Cheika is optimistic that the Ireland full-back will be fit for the visit of Cardiff on Saturday week.
“On the injury front, we’ll have to wait and see on the guys who are coming back. Hopefully they’ll all be available and that’s why we’ve included them in the panel.
“Girvan is a lot better than expected and his ankle knock means that he will miss this week’s match but could be back next week.
“Stan (Wright’s) injury looked quite nasty initially but he had a scan on his ankle and it’s also not as bad as first feared. Hopefully Bernard Jackman will be back for the first Heineken Cup game of 2009.”
Friday night will see Leinster pass the 100,000 attendance mark for home matches this season as over 14,000 tickets have already been sold for the Connacht game.
Tickets will be on sale from the Ticketmaster box office on Simmonscourt Road and Anglesea Road from 5pm on Friday.
LEINSTER Squad (v Connacht): Backs (11) – Chris Keane, Simon Keogh, Chris Whitaker, Felipe Contepomi, Isa Nacewa, Jonathan Sexton, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan, Rob Kearney.
Forwards (15) – Brian Blaney, John Fogarty, Ronan McCormack, Cian Healy, CJ Van Der Linde, Stan Wright, Trevor Hogan, Devin Toner, Cameron Jowitt, Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Stephen Keogh.