Both Leinster and Ospreys opened their RaboDirect PRO12 campaigns with away wins last weekend, so something will have to give in this repeat of the 2012 final at the RDS.
RABODIRECT PRO12: Saturday, September 14
LEINSTER (3rd) v OSPREYS (6th), the RDS, 6.15pm (live RTÉ Two)
Team News: The Leinster team to face the Ospreys in Saturday’s opening home RaboDirect PRO12 game of the campaign at the RDS has been named.
Luke Fitzgerald has been named on the left wing for the visit of the Welsh side to Dublin after shaking off a groin strain which had curtailed his training this week.
With hamstring injury victim Fergus McFadden unavailable, Brendan Macken continues his centre partnership with Gordon D’Arcy in an unchanged back-line from the side that defeated the Scarlets away last weekend.
Up front, Shane Jennings again leads the side and the forwards are boosted for the round 2 fixture by the inclusion of flanker Kevin McLaughlin and hooker Richardt Strauss in an all-Ireland qualified pack.
Mike McCarthy will make his home debut after appearing as a replacement in Llanelli, while there is also a first start this season for Mike Ross who also featured off the bench in the first round.
Ian Madigan has been named amongst the replacements alongside fellow Ireland internationals Isaac Boss, Sean Cronin and Rhys Ruddock.
Over 14,700 tickets have now been sold for Saturday’s game. Tickets are still on sale online here, and are available from Spar Donnybrook as well as Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.
There will also be Ticketmaster booths open from 3pm on Saturday on Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road.
Meanwhile, Ospreys boss Steve Tandy has made just one change to the team that started the 24-19 triumph away to Benetton Treviso in round 1.
Former Wales captain Ryan Jones picked up a shoulder injury during that game, so 2013 Lion Ian Evans comes in for his first start of the season in the second row.
Front rowers Richard Hibbard and Adam Jones, who also toured Australia with the Lions, should see action off the bench.
Dan Biggar, who has a new half-back partner in Italian international Tito Tebaldi, was in man-of-the-match form against Treviso and has already spoken of the region’s goal of securing a home semi-final in the league play-offs.
Another of the Ospreys’ summer signings, new forwards coach Chris Gibbes, will want to get one over on his brother – Leinster’s own Kiwi forwards coach Jono.
This will be the first of four family face-offs for the Gibbes siblings this season, with Leinster and Ospreys also paired together in the Heineken Cup pool stages.
LEINSTER: David Kearney; Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy, Kevin McLaughlin, Shane Jennings (capt), Jordi Murphy.
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Jack O’Connell, Martin Moore, Tom Denton, Rhys Ruddock, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Darren Hudson.
OSPREYS: Richard Fussell; Ben John, Andrew Bishop, Ashley Beck, Eli Walker; Dan Biggar, Tito Tebaldi; Ryan Bevington, Scott Baldwin, Joe Rees, Ian Evans, James King, Tom Smith (capt), Sam Lewis, Joe Bearman.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Tyler Ardron, Morgan Allen, Tom Grabham, Matthew Morgan, Jeff Hassler.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Peter Fitzgibbon, Michael Black (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Leinster to win: 1/4; Draw: 22/1; Ospreys to win: 3/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Devin Toner (Leinster) – “The Scarlets have been a real thorn in our sides over the last few years and to put what was a pretty poor record in opening round games behind us was satisfying.
“But playing teams at this time of year can be a little bit misleading. We were without a good few players ourselves and it shows that there’s good depth in the squad at the moment.
“Once Jordi (Murphy) got his try we clicked and we showed good fitness levels at the end. We have a lot of faith in our fitness staff and the squad have worked really hard in pre-season to get to a high level of fitness and conditioning and hopefully that will tell over the coming months.
“For the likes of Darragh (Fanning), Jimmy (Gopperth) and Mike McCarthy it was good for them to get their first competitive run outs in Leinster colours.
“That experience will stand to them and I’m sure they’re excited about the chance of playing in front of a big crowd in the RDS this weekend.
“The Ospreys are a fantastic side who have been one of the most consistent teams in the PRO12 over the last number of years. Alun Wyn Jones is a real leader and they’ve got international quality right across their team.
“Every time you come up against them, irrespective of whether it’s at the start of the campaign or the business end in the knockout stages, it is usually a huge test and we know that if we’re lacking in any department they can punish us.
“They will have no fear coming to the RDS and we know each other well, individually and collectively. It should be a really competitive game.”
Steve Tandy (Ospreys) – “It was good to get off to a positive start against Treviso last weekend. We wanted to build some real momentum in the opening weeks of the season and although there’s plenty of room for improvement there’s a lot to be happy about after a tough game in Italy.
“The spirit and effort shown by the boys was fantastic, that was probably the most pleasing thing for me. When we had to dog it out at the end, it was backs to the wall stuff and we came through a very difficult test.
“Looking forward to this weekend, there’s been plenty to work on off the back of last Saturday, a few things to put right, but the attitude of the group has been good.
“Leinster away is always tough and we wouldn’t expect it to be any different this weekend. They’ve got strength in depth and whatever team they pick we know that as a team we are going to have to be at our best to be able to build on the win in Treviso and keep the momentum going.
“We want to come back to the Liberty (Stadium) next week to play Edinburgh on the back of another positive performance, so that there will be a real buzz around the Liberty to welcome the boys back for the first home game of the PRO12 season, and a good crowd getting behind the region.”
Top Scorers – 2013/14 RaboDirect PRO12: Leinster – Points: Jimmy Gopperth 22; Tries: Martin Moore, Jordi Murphy, Jimmy Gopperth, Darren Hudson, David Kearney 1 each; Ospreys – Points: Dan Biggar 14; Tries: Ben John, Scott Baldwin 1 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, January 7, 2011 – Leinster 15 Ospreys 10, the RDS
Friday, September 2, 2011 – Ospreys 27 Leinster 3, Liberty Stadium
Friday, March 23, 2012 – Leinster 22 Ospreys 23, the RDS
Sunday, May 27, 2012 – Final – Leinster 30 Ospreys 31, the RDS
Sunday, November 4, 2012 – Ospreys 19 Leinster 10, Liberty Stadium
Friday, May 3, 2013 – Leinster 37 Ospreys 19, the RDS
– Leinster began the season with an impressive bonus point victory at Parc y Scarlets last Friday, recording a ninth successive victory in all competitions in the process
– The province’s only defeat in their last ten encounters with Welsh regions was 19-10 at the Ospreys last November
– The Ospreys opened their account with a 24-19 win in Treviso last Saturday in what was their third successive away game in this competition
– The Welshmen are winless on their last three visits to Ireland. Leinster’s 37-19 victory over Ospreys at the RDS in round 22 last season ended a four-match losing streak against the Welsh outfit