The Leinster squad to face Ulster in Saturday’s Magners League clash at the RDS (kick-off 5.30pm) has been named.
Leinster can call on the likes of Gordon D’Arcy, Shane Horgan, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll – all try scorers in the 39-7 victory over the Scarlets last weekend – for the visit of Ulster to the RDS on St. Stephen’s Day.
In addition, Leinster’s latest centurion Jamie Heaslip is named in a strong pack which also includes the likes of Leo Cullen, Kevin McLaughlin and Sean O’Brien who have all impressed in recent weeks.
There are nine recent Leinster Academy graduates in the extended panel, supplemented by the likes of Isa Nacewa, Nathan Hines and Stan Wright. The team and replacements will be confirmed on Christmas Eve.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s encounter with Ulster, Leinster defence coach Kurt McQuilkin said that the squad know that they will need to be at their best against an improving Ulster outfit.
“The players are up for it, we’re up for it, and I’m sure that Ulster will be up for it because it’s a local derby so all the tribalism will be coming out, so it should be good,” said McQuilkin.
“When you look at their players such as (Stephen) Ferris and even their wings Timoci Nagusa, (Simon) Danielli and Andrew Trimble, they have big physical players so it should be a tough game.
“You’ll have to match that physicality, first and foremost, and put them under a bit of pressure.
“Though the boys were happy with the two Heineken Cup wins over the Scarlets, having watched the likes of Munster play against a very Perpignan side, it puts it in a bit of perspective.
“From a defensive point of view, we were probably still a bit sore about conceding a try in each of the games and that’s something we can work on.
“The flow was good, there was some good movement, and our concentration was a lot better last weekend than it was the previous weekend.
“But there was a ten-minute section in the match (last weekend) when we lost a bit of urgency. Everything just went flat from our attack right through to our defence which probably resulted in the concession of the try.
“We’re trying to knock that out of our game. It’s hard to know why that happens because they’re very intense in training, it’s just one of those things.
“The same thing happened over in the Scarlets but possibly for a longer period when it extended to the first 15 minutes of the second half.
“It’s something we’ve highlighted and something we’re keen to knock out of our system especially in these derby games be it against Ulster, Munster or Connacht. If you do that against these teams and they’ll hurt you.”
The league derby marks Leinster’s final game of the calendar year and over 17,000 tickets have now sold for Saturday’s interprovincial derby against Ulster.
Tickets remain on sale on www.leinsterrugby.ie and from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide and are also available from the Leinster Rugby Store and Spar (Donnybrook).
LEINSTER Squad (v Ulster) – Backs (13): Shaun Berne, Gordon D’Arcy, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Chris Keane, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Simon Keogh, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Brian O’Driscoll, Eoin Reddan.
Forwards (14): Leo Cullen (capt), John Fogarty, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Bernard Jackman, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Malcolm O’Kelly, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Stan Wright.