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O’Driscoll Passed Fit For Leinster

O’Driscoll Passed Fit For Leinster

The Leinster team to face Clermont Auvergne in Saturday’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 showdown at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.45pm) has been named.

Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt has made three changes in personnel for the rematch with his former club, Clermont Auvergne.

Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Heaslip take their places in the starting line-up for the round 4 encounter, although the Ireland number 8 will face a late fitness test following the warm-up.

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Heaslip was replaced just after half-time in last Sunday’s game at Stade Marcel Michelin, having damaged his left ankle. He has had it in protective casing for most of the week.

O’Driscoll, who has recovered from a jaw injury, partners Gordon D’Arcy at centre. He replaces Eoin O’Malley whose impressive Heineken Cup debut last weekend was marred by a fractured rib.

The back-three of Shane Horgan, Fergus McFadden and Isa Nacewa is unchanged from the away leg.

Eoin Reddan has been preferred to Isaac Boss at scrum half, slotting in alongside Jonathan Sexton who kicked eight points in the 20-13 defeat to Clermont Auvergne.

Cian Healy starts in the front row alongside Richardt Strauss and Mike Ross, with Heinke van der Merwe the player to make way.

Leo Cullen will skipper the side from the second row, with Sean O’Brien, one of Leinster’s best performers last time out, donning the number 6 jersey once again.

O’Brien will move to number 8 and Dominic Ryan will be promoted from the replacements bench if Heaslip does not pull through.

Saturday’s game will be a record pool attendance for an Irish province with over 43,000 tickets now sold.

Tickets are still on sale from www.leinsterrugby.ie, Spar (Donnybrook), Champion Sports, the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook) and from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Urging the province’s supporters to provide a vocal backing for the side, Leinster team manager Guy Easterby said: “I can’t reiterate enough how important the crowd will be. We might just need the energy that they bring to get us over the line.

“It would be absolutely huge for the province. I don’t think we can get across enough how important the crowd has been for the past four or five years. They make it a really special occasion for the Leinster players.

“I can only ask that they dig deep for this game. It is so important for the players that we have the biggest crowd, as vociferous as possible.

“They are going to be the extra man on Saturday. They can have a huge effect on the result.”

Meanwhile, as part of the ‘One Province’ initiative which sees clubs, schools and community projects benefit with discount €;5 tickets as part of group packages for all Leinster home games. Over 3,500 supporters will be in
attendance at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday.

Leinster Rugby are calling on all their supporters to support the Christmas Collection, which will take place at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, on behalf of the province’s four official charity partners – Action Breast Cancer, Age Action, Welcome Home and St. Michael’s House.

LEINSTER (v Clermont Auvergne): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Fergus McFadden; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Nathan Hines, Sean O’Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip/Dominic Ryan.

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Heinke van der Merwe, Clint Newland, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan/Rhys Ruddock, Isaac Boss, Shaun Berne, David Kearney.