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Kearney Returns To Leinster Side

Kearney Returns To Leinster Side

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 on Saturday (kick-off 4.45pm local time/3.45pm Irish time).

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 Rob Kearney starting at full-back.

Eoin Reddan continues his half-back partnership with Jonathan Sexton.

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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.

Eager for Leinster to bounce back after last weekend’s narrow loss to London Irish, the province’s defence coach Kurt McQuilkin said that the squad are focused and determined to get back to winning ways.

“Obviously everyone was very disappointed after last weekend’s defeat, but we have come in and done a few good days work,” explained McQuilkin.

“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.”

He added: “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.”

LEINSTER (v Brive): 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.