Having both lost in the first round, 1997 champions Brive and current title holders Leinster can ill-afford to finish second best at a sold-out Stade Municipal on Saturday. Michael Cheika’s men welcome back Lions full-back Rob Kearney for the trip to south central France, with Gordon D’Arcy the player to make way.
HEINEKEN CUP: POOL 6: Saturday, October 17
BRIVE (4th) v LEINSTER (3rd), Stade Municipal Pelouse Amedee-Domenech, 3.45pm (live Sky Sports 2)
Team News: Ireland and Lions full-back Rob Kearney has been brought back into the Leinster starting line-up for the province’s crucial Heineken Cup Pool 6 clash with Brive at Stade Municipal Pelouse Amedee-Domenech.
Brian O’Driscoll will partner Luke Fitzgerald for the round 2 tie in Brive, with Isa Nacewa moving to the left wing, Shane Horgan continuing on the right wing and Kearney starting at full-back.
Eoin Reddan continues his half-back partnership with Jonathan Sexton.
In the pack, Cian Healy lines up alongside Bernard Jackman and Mike Ross in the front row.
Team captain Leo Cullen and September’s Player of the Month award winner Kevin McLaughlin will undergo late fitness tests and a decision on their selection will be made closer to kick-off time.
Should either Cullen or McLaughlin miss out, Malcolm O’Kelly will start with Devin Toner coming on to the replacements bench.
Meanwhile, Brive, back in the Heineken Cup for the first time since 1998, have made a number of changes to the side that went down 24-12 at the Scarlets last weekend.
Alexis Palisson comes in on the right wing for Argentinian Horacio Agulla, while former England hooker Steve Thompson and Pat Barnard have been added to the front row.
Two former Connacht players, Damien Browne and Christian Short, will line up in Brive’s second row, while injured Welsh flanker Alix Popham’s place has gone to Gerhard Vosloo.
Thompson is one of a number of English internationals included, with out-half Andy Goode, Brive’s only scorer against the Scarlets, his half-back partner Shaun Perry and centre Jamie Noon also set to start. 2009 Lions centre Riki Flutey is out injured.
With interest high in the Limousin region and Leinster fans also travelling in good numbers, the game is a 15,519 sell-out.
BRIVE: Fabrice Estebanez (capt); Alexis Palisson, Jamie Noon, Lachlan Mackay, Viliame Waqaseduadua; Andy Goode, Shaun Perry; Davit Kinchagishvili, Steve Thompson, Pat Barnard, Christian Short, Damien Browne, Gerhard Vosloo, Vincent Forgues, Antoine Claassen.
Replacements: Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux, Petrisor Toderasc, Retief Uys, Simon Azoulai, Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, Luciano Orquera, Ronnie Cooke, Pascal Idieder.
LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Bernard Jackman, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt)/Malcolm O’Kelly*, Nathan Hines, Kevin McLaughlin/Malcolm O’Kelly**, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: John Fogarty, CJ van der Linde, Ronan McCormack, Malcolm O’Kelly/Devin Toner*, Stephen Keogh/Kevin McLaughlin**, Simon Keogh, Shaun Berne, Gordon D’Arcy.
Referee: James Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Laurent Valin (France)
Television Match Official: Huw Lewis (Wales)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Brive to win: 7/4; Draw: 20/1; Leinster to win: 4/9
Pre-Match Quotes: Kurt McQuilkin (Leinster) – “Obviously everyone was very disappointed after last weekend’s defeat, but we have come in and done a few good days work.
“We’ve gone over the game, identified a couple of areas that we need to improve on and we’re in pretty good shape now.
“We looked at body positioning at the contact zone when we had the ball, and our support getting in quicker to affect good ruck technique. We missed good opportunities too and they were the main areas of improvement.
“From a defensive point of view it was good not to concede tries, but even though it irks me I would have been prepared to let in a try against London Irish if we had won the game.
“Over the last couple of games we have gotten back into our groove defensively again and our line speed has picked up and things are looking alright.
“But we’ve got to keep it going now. I’m looking for more consistency in that, but things are going alright.
“You’ve got to start strongly against French teams. You can’t let them breach you early on and if Brive get their tails up, they’re very hard to knock even with the large English contingent in their squad.
“You’ve got to look to make a few impact hits early on just to set the mark. With the likes of (Viliame) Waqaseuadua out on the wings, who is one of a number of players (in their ranks) who are good on their feet, we can’t afford to let them breach us, particularly early on.
“Brive are very tough at home. Funnily enough, they’re very structured for the first couple of phases, but they also have that flair in them.
“If it gets to the stage where they’re willing to fling it about, they can be quite dangerous.
“From a defensive point of view, if you start dropping under especially out in those wider channels, that’s where they’ll hurt you because they like to run it and they like to have the ball in hand.
“After last weekend, it’s back to the walls for us. We know that we can’t afford to lose another game so that has really focused the minds for us. We know that we have to win. And we intend to.”
Ugo Mola (Brive) – “We have the feeling that it is like an international match. It’s probably the most important game of the season for us, the most exciting.
“We have few opportunities to play this kind of game against such a team, but we shall not say we are invited.
“Leinster will try to play on our weaknesses, so we will try not to show any.
“We know it’s going to be difficult for us but we have things to show and things to prove. We are not going to play with little ambition.”
Current Form – Brive – (Top 14 Championship): Won 30-9 at home to Montpellier; Lost 38-0 away to Toulouse; Drew 9-9 at home to Clermont Auvergne; Lost 21-9 away to Perpignan; Won 39-6 at home to Albi; Lost 23-20 away to Montauban; Lost 15-12 at home to Biarritz Olympique; Won 11-9 at home to Castres Olympique; Lost 44-16 away to Stade Francais; (Heineken Cup): Lost 24-12 away to the Scarlets
Leinster – (Magners League): Lost 18-16 away to the Scarlets; Won 23-14 at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons; Won 18-11 away to the Ospreys; Won 21-19 away to Edinburgh; Won 30-0 at home to Munster; (Heineken Cup): Lost 12-9 at home to London Irish
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