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Leinster Finalise Team For Murrayfield Decider

Leinster Finalise Team For Murrayfield Decider

The Leinster team to face the Leicester Tigers in Saturday’s Heineken Cup final at Murrayfield (kick-off 5pm) has been named.

The Leinster side shows one change to the starting line-up from the semi-final victory over Munster.

With Felipe Contepomi out injured, Ireland ‘A’ international Jonathan Sexton is set to partner Chris Whitaker at half-back, while Brian O’Driscoll resumes his centre partnership with Gordon D’Arcy.

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In the pack Rocky Elsom starts in the back row alongside Ireland duo Shane Jennings and Jamie Heaslip, with Leo Cullen captaining the side for what is the province’s first appearance in the Heineken Cup final.

Rob Kearney, who proved his fitness last weekend against the Dragons, has been named on a strong replacements bench alongside the likes of Girvan Dempsey, Devin Toner and Sean O’Brien.

Speaking ahead of the biggest game in Leinster’s history, head coach Michael Cheika said: “We believe in ourselves. The only guarantee that you can get in this game is that we try to go out and give everything that we’ve got in the final.

“We know that it’s our first time here and that Leicester are very experienced so we understand where we are. We’ve got to prepare our mental state so that we give them a real run for their money.

“I thought their Guinness Premiership final win last weekend was ‘classic’ Leicester. They know how to win, don’t they? If you saw the first 20 minutes after half-time they decided that they were going to hold on to the ball.

“They made a 4:1 (ratio) more tackle count on London Irish and once they saw that things weren’t going right for them in the first half they just showed what kind of a championship class side they are.

“We have to understand where we are and not worry too much about where Leicester are. I don’t know if their record in this competition will intimidate our players, but it’s a big confidence booster for their own players.

“We’ve got our own team culture that we believe in and we’re obviously pretty true to that.

“It’s still in the development stage, but I would say that our self belief is very strong within the team and what we’ve got to try to do is relax and bring it on the day because that’s what cup finals are all about.

“Our mission is to go on and win the game, but we’re not getting to get anxious by that. We’ve got to stay calm and understand how we’re going to achieve that mission against what is a formidable enemy.

“The more you look at them in the scrum, in the lineout, in their power play and in their counter attack where Geordan Murphy is a very explosive player, you’re talking about a formidable opponent.

“We want to enjoy the build-up, and as the word says ‘build-up’ towards kick-off time.”

LEINSTER (v Leicester Tigers): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Chris Whitaker; Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Stan Wright, Leo Cullen (capt), Malcolm O’Kelly, Rocky Elsom, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: John Fogarty, Ronan McCormack, Devin Toner, Sean O’Brien, Simon Keogh, Rob Kearney, Girvan Dempsey.