The Leinster team to face the Cardiff Blues in Saturday’s Magners League clash at the RDS (kick-off 6.30pm) has been named.
Jonathan Sexton will partner Eoin Reddan for the visit of Cardiff in a Leinster back-line which includes Shane Horgan who has been named in the back three alongside Luke Fitzgerald and Isa Nacewa.
Leo Cullen captains the Leinster team and lines up alongside Malcolm O’Kelly in a pack that includes South African prop CJ van der Linde who starts his first game of the season, having appeared as a substitute in the province’s last two games.
Cian Healy will scrum down with John Fogarty and van der Linde in the front row, while Nathan Hines, Mike Ross, Bernard Jackman and Girvan Dempsey have been named on a strong replacements bench.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against the Blues, Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes said that the side are expecting a stern test at the RDS.
“Cardiff are a quality side and have strength in depth right across their squad,” he said.
“They have the capability to play different styles and they play with great aggression, they’re very direct and combative and we are expecting a real contest this weekend.
“They love going hard at their opponents and their backs can ask a lot of questions of your defence.
“I know a few of the players, such as Ben Blair, Rushie (Xavier Rush) and Taufa’ao Filise and they are well led by their captain Paul Tito whom I know from his time with the Hurricanes as well as the New Zealand Maori.
“Cardiff have been well served by their foreign players, but Saturday hardly presents an opportunity to meet up! Their real strength is in their collective strength as they’re a strong group who works hard for one another.
“It is an important game for us in the context of the league and we want to finish off this part of the season strongly before the break for the November internationals.
“We’re not entirely happy with our form of late, but overall we have made a positive start to the Magners League.
“Having played four games on the road in the early part of the season, it has been very tough.
“The team were obviously disappointed with the performance against Ulster and we’re looking to address some of the areas that we weren’t as clinical in.
“We need to be more aggressive in the collisions, with and without the ball, and that needs to be at a high level to deal with Cardiff’s threats.
“We have been good in that area this season, but we know that we have to up a level each week,” added Gibbes.
LEINSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, John Fogarty, CJ van der Linde, Leo Cullen (capt), Malcolm O’Kelly, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Bernard Jackman, Mike Ross, Nathan Hines, Stephen Keogh, Simon Keogh, Shaun Berne, Girvan Dempsey.