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Leinster Make Three Changes

Leinster Make Three Changes

The Leinster team to face Racing Metro 92 in Friday night’s Heineken Cup Pool 2 match at Stade Yves du Manoir (kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time) has been named.

Head coach Joe Schmidt has made three changes in personnel to the team that gained a six-try 43-20 victory over Saracens at the RDS last Saturday.

Gordon D’Arcy has recovered from a calf strain and returns at inside centre, at the expense of Fergus McFadden who was a try scorer against Sarries.

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The other change in the back-line sees Isaac Boss return at scrum half, replacing Eoin Reddan who will provide back-up on the bench.

Up front, fresh from his call-up to the Ireland RBS 6 Nations squad, Rhys Ruddock comes into the back row alongside Sean O’Brien and Shane Jennings, who both committed their immediate futures to the province earlier this week.

Flanker Jennings will make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance on Friday and will be the 14th Leinster player to reach the landmark, combining his games for Leinster (32 caps) and Leicester Tigers (17).

He joins fellow ‘Elite 50 Club’ team-mates Shane Horgan (83), Gordon D’Arcy (73), Brian O’Driscoll (71), Leo Cullen (68) and Nathan Hines (57).

Jamie Heaslip remains on the sidelines due to an ankle injury, while there is a doubt over replacement Eoin O’Malley (ill). A decision on his availability will be made closer to kick-off.

With their place in the quarter-finals already secured, Leinster will now aim for a home draw in the last-eight of European rugby’s premier tournament.

Meanwhile, Brian O’Driscoll is clearly revelling in how Leinster are playing at the moment and the approach adopted by Joe Schmidt in his first season in charge.

“The great thing about Joe is that he doesn’t pick on reputation, that’s the right way to go about it,” he said.

“It’s a bit different from previous seasons, there were times maybe when it might have been easier to get into teams but now the tougher it gets sometimes the more enjoyable it gets.

“That’s the way you need to have it. Reputation doesn’t count for anything if you’re not producing. 10 years down the track, I am definitely enjoying training but I’m conscious that I need to produce it every time I’m on the training pitch or in a match.”

He added: “I’ve seen the performances that Eoin (O’Malley) and Fergus (McFadden) have been putting in this season and it’s great.

“The reason I’m enjoying it so much is because of the competition and the brand (of rugby) we’re playing. It’s fun coming in every day, we have a really good balance of younger and older guys and there is a great work ethic.

“That balance is good, (blend of) leaders, guys with plenty of experience and then young guys not afraid to speak and let their voice be heard.

“It’s where we want to be but we’re a team constantly evolving, the second you think you’re great is the second that you head on a downward spiral. The next opportunity we get to prove we’re a decent team is Friday.”

LEINSTER (v Racing Metro 92): Isa Nacewa; Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jonathan Sexton, Isaac Boss; Cian Healy, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen (capt), Nathan Hines, Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Sean O’Brien.

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Heinke van der Merwe, Clint Newland, Devin Toner, Dominic Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Eoin O’Malley/Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.