The Leinster squad to face the Scarlets in Saturday’s Magners League clash at the RDS (kick-off 6.30pm) has been named.
Leinster welcome back Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton from Ireland duty for the province’s fourth fixture against the Scarlets this season.
With the likes of Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan and Shane Jennings in tow, supplemented by the likes of Shaun Berne, Isa Nacewa, Stan Wright and CJ van der Linde, Leinster can call on a panel of experienced and young talent.
Full-back Andrew Conway has been included in the extended panel, having impressed for the Ireland Under-20s in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, David Kearney, Eoin O’Malley and Eoin Sheriff have made the cut, following their efforts in last weekend’s 22-10 British & Irish Cup victory over the Exeter Chiefs.
The team and replacements to take on the Scarlets will be confirmed on Friday afternoon.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s return to Magners League action, Leinster coach Michael Cheika said that the squad have enormous respect for a Scarlets side who have turned a corner in their season and will be dangerous opponents.
“The only player who is a long term doubt is Luke Fitzgerald and he wouldn’t have been in the national team anyway, so it is probably about a good a compliment as we could have at this stage of the season,” he said.
“Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton will all be involved (this weekend).
“If you look at this Magners League run and the way we try to plan it out, obviously it is not the situation we thought we would be in exactly, but we are still close enough to the top – all things going well by the end of these games – to get into the top two.
“A top four place is our target at this stage because we have to be realistic about the players we are missing, etc. I think an individual approach to this game is what’s needed because every step now is a step closer to the semi-finals.
“They are quite tangible now, we have played nine games but the split will come now. If you keep accumulating the points, each week is kind of broken, but getting the points each week will get you to the stage.
“After this game we have Cardiff away, Glasgow at home and then Connacht away and they are all important games for us in (terms of) getting there. It is good to be at home too because we haven’t played together for a while.”
He added: “The Magners League is an important competition for Welsh teams who want to play in the Heineken Cup next year and I think there has been a bit of a resurgence and there is quality there, we’ve seen from the recent Cup games they have quite a good run going there.
“The one thing about Llanelli is we remember that they came here and gave us quite a bashing a few years back and that puts the fear into us every time we play them, that they could do it to us again.
“They have got Regan King back…Rhys Priestland behind the scrum is a very good player and we know very well the threat that they pose.”
Over 13,000 tickets have now been sold for Saturday’s Magners League match at the Dublin 4 venue.
Tickets are on sale from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Tickets can be purchased in Donnybrook from Spar and the Leinster Rugby Store and will also be available to purchase outside the RDS from 3pm on Saturday.
LEINSTER Squad (v Scarlets) – Backs (14): Shaun Berne, Andrew Conway, Girvan Dempsey, Shane Horgan, Chris Keane, David Kearney, Simon Keogh, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Eoin O’Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.
Forwards (16): John Fogarty, Trevor Hogan, Bernard Jackman, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Malcolm O’Kelly, Mike Ross, Paul Ryan, Eoin Sheriff, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, CJ van der Linde, Stan Wright.