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Magners Preview: Leinster v Munster

Magners Preview: Leinster v Munster

All eyes will be on the Aviva Stadium this Saturday night as Leinster and Munster meet in a titanic Magners League tussle. Table-topping Munster have the form, but Leinster have the carrot of a five in-a-row of wins against their arch rivals.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, October 2

LEINSTER (9th) v MUNSTER (2nd), Aviva Stadium, 7.30pm (live TG4)

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Team News: Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has made five confirmed changes in personnel to the team that lost to Edinburgh last weekend.

There may be a fifth as a decision on the availability of out-half Jonathan Sexton will be made closer to kick-off on Saturday.

Sexton is yet to make his seasonal bow for Leinster, having sustained a quad muscle injury prior to the province’s recent home win over the Cardiff Blues.

If the Ireland international is not passed fit, Isa Nacewa, who kicked 11 points against Edinburgh, will retain the number 10 jersey alongside Isaac Boss.

The remainder of the back-line is unchanged as Gordon D’Arcy continues his centre partnership with Brian O’Driscoll, and Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan and Rob Kearney form the back-three.

There are four changes to the pack, the most notable seeing Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip return to the back row. Heaslip will captain the side.

Nathan Hines has been selected in the second row, replacing the injured Ed O’Donoghue, while Heinke van der Merwe makes way for Cian Healy in the front row.

Meanwhile, Munster coach Tony McGahan has made four changes – all in the forwards – for Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated derby clash.

One of those changes is necessitated by the withdrawal of Tony Buckley with a stomach bug, so John Hayes starts at tighthead prop.

South African Wian du Preez will prop down on the loosehead side of the Munster side, with Marcus Horan making way.

The second row remains unchanged, while the anticipated return of Alan Quinlan means David Wallace, who donned the number 6 jersey against Glasgow Warriors, drops to the replacements bench.

Niall Ronan, Munster’s top try scorer this season, has been retained at openside flanker.

du Preez started in Munster’s opening two games and Horan in the next two, so there is an obvious selection pattern there.

Given that Wallace’s unfamiliar role at blindside against Glasgow was just his first game back and considering the form to date of Ronan, the reasoning behind that choice is evident.

Munster’s back-line is unchanged from the bonus point win at Firhill Stadium, meaning more game-time for Johne Murphy on the left wing and New Zealanders Lifeimi Mafi and Sam Tuitupou combine for the second time in the centre.

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton/Isa Nacewa, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Nathan Hines, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip (capt).

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Heinke van der Merwe, Simon Shawe, Mariano Galarza, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Isa Nacewa/Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.

MUNSTER: Paul Warwick; Doug Howlett, Lifeimi Mafi, Sam Tuitupou, Johne Murphy; Ronan O’Gara, Tomas O’Leary; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy (capt).

Replacements: Sean Henry, Marcus Horan, Darragh Hurley, Mick O’Driscoll, David Wallace, Peter Stringer, Scott Deasy, Denis Hurley.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Michael Black (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 10/11; Draw: 18/1; Munster to win: 10/11

Pre-Match Quotes: Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster) – “We have a point as players to prove that we haven’t become a bad team overnight. We just need to do the simple things well, grow into the game and get a little bit of confidence.

“There is a huge onus on player responsibility this weekend to front up individually and then as a team collectively.

“To that end, each Leinster player has analysed his own performance individually and realised the parts that they have to improve on.

“I have looked at aspects of my game that I might need to improve in. We are not going to divulge what work we have done but if we play to our potential, we will give anyone a run for their money and certainly Munster.

“They (the critics) can sit on their armchairs and look at one game and judge people off that. If they come to training day in, day out they’ll see there are quite high interest levels there.

“But we don’t really pay much heed when we’re being patted on the back, like we don’t pay a huge amount of heed when people are getting on our backs.

“Jamie (Heaslip) is a big character within our squad, he’s comfortably been our best player for the past number of seasons and definitely someone that we look to.

“He probably won’t shout about it, but he’ll want to be Ireland captain some day. I’ve always been a huge believer that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do and he definitely is the sort of guy you want to get behind.”

Tony McGahan (Munster) – “Really all that we go on is the games that we’ve played against Leinster in the past, and how they approach us and how we approach them.

“If we were playing Connacht or we were playing Ulster, there would be that same mentality. We don’t really draw any conclusions from where they are in the table or how they’ve done in past games.

“All we know is that we expect them to be at their best on Saturday and we’re sure they’ll be expecting our best too. You can’t argue with history, you can’t argue with the stats.

“They have four wins out of the last four Munster-Leinster encounters and we’re zero, and that’s the way it stands. There is no argument there and we certainly don’t have any qualms.

“It’s always a motivation when you lose against anyone, but especially someone very close to you with regards to Leinster.

“Last season we lost to Glasgow badly away, we lost to Edinburgh, we lost to the Ospreys at home, and we’ve been lucky enough to play well enough and get results against those sides (in recent weeks).

“But this game will be judged on its own merits, judged on its own environment which is different to where we have been for a period of time playing back at the Aviva Stadium. It’s one we are eagerly looking forward to.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Leinster – Points: Isa Nacewa 46; Tries: Isa Nacewa 2; Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 45; Tries: Niall Ronan 3


Saturday, April 12, 2008 – Leinster 21 Munster 12, the RDS
Sunday, September 28, 2008 – Leinster 0 Munster 18, the RDS
Saturday, April 4, 2009 – Munster 22 Leinster 5, Thomond Park
Saturday, October 3, 2009 – Leinster 30 Munster 0, the RDS
Friday, April 2, 2010 – Munster 15 Leinster 16, Thomond Park
Saturday, May 15, 2010 – Semi-final – Leinster 16 Munster 6, the RDS


– Irish rugby’s impressive newly-refurbished home, the Aviva Stadium, hosts its first major game with a new Magners League attendance record in the offing

– Leinster’s stuttering start to the new season continued last Friday with a 32-24 defeat at Edinburgh. Before Lansdowne Road was redeveloped, Leinster had won their last five games at the old Dublin 4 ground

– Munster are now the only side left in this season’s Magners League with a 100% winning record

– Munster’s only win in their last four encounters with fellow Irish provinces was an 18-12 success at Connacht on April 18

– Leinster have won their last four matches against Munster, but have not won five in-a-row against their fiercest rivals since the 1930s