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O’Connor: Opportunity Knocks Ahead Of Dragons Game

O’Connor: Opportunity Knocks Ahead Of Dragons Game

The Leinster squad trained at UCD today ahead of next Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade (kick-off 7.05pm).

Shane Jennings successfully came through his comeback game against Connacht last Saturday following a broken bone in his hand, in a match which also saw Zane Kirchner make his debut for the province.

Andrew Goodman, meanwhile, could also be in the frame for his seasonal debut this week after a long spell on the sidelines.

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Leinster look set to without a number of Ireland internationals for the Dragons match, so that will present some of the younger players with an opportunity to impress following the ‘A’ team’s recent British & Irish Cup victories over Ealing Trailfinders and Moseley.

Ticket sales for the province’s Heineken Cup round 4 clash with Northampton Saints at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, December 14 are fast approaching the 24,000 mark after a strong few weeks of sales.

Tickets for this and all Leinster games are on sale now online here.

Speaking ahead of this week’s trip to Newport, Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor said: “It was a tough, physical game (against Connacht) on Saturday night but we were pleased to get the win which I thought our efforts deserved overall.

“There are obviously a few bumps and bruises as you’d expect, but overall we’re in pretty good shape for the game in Newport which will pose a big challenge for us.

“We are down a few bodies this week because of Ireland commitments, but that will present an opportunity for a number of players who have been itching for game time in recent weeks.

“We’re delighted to have the likes of Jenno (Shane Jennings) and Zane (Kirchner) back in the frame because we’re going to need a few experienced heads over in Newport in a ground which has traditionally been a difficult place for Leinster to go to and win.

“The prognosis on Lote (Tuqiri) is good after his hamstring injury and we’re confident that he’ll be available for selection after what has been a frustrating few weeks for him.”

The Australian added: “The Dragons will be determined to get back to winning ways after their defeat to the Ospreys and they are a side who have progressed this year.

“They have recruited well through the likes of Kris Burton and they also have some emerging indigenous talent who are starting to get recognition at national level.

“Andrew Coombs is an impressive leader for them up front, Dan Evans is an attacking threat out wide and under Lyn Jones they have brought a more expansive approach to their play this year.

“They freshened things up last weekend against the Ospreys and they could make a few more changes which is a signal of their depth and proof that they’re very much a club headed in the right direction.”