The Leinster team to face Edinburgh in Friday night’s Magners League clash at Murrayfield (KO: 7.05pm, LIVE RTE 2) has been named.
Rob Kearney will make his 100th Leinster appearance on Friday and the Cooley man will become the 17th Leinster player to reach the landmark feat. Kearney is named in a backline which features seven Ireland internationals including Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Sexton, who makes his first appearance this season.
In the pack, skipper Shane Jennings forms a back-row partnership with Dominic Ryan and Stephen Keogh who starts at number eight, while second-row Devin Toner also makes his seasonal debut.
Isaac Boss, Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy are all named amongst the replacements.
15: Rob Kearney
14: Shane Horgan
13: Brian O’Driscoll
12: Gordon D’Arcy
11: Luke Fitzgerald
10: Jonathan Sexton
9: Eoin Reddan
1: Heinke van der Merwe
2: Richardt Strauss
3: Mike Ross
4: Ed O’Donoghue
5: Devin Toner
6: Dominic Ryan
7: Shane Jennings CAPTAIN
8: Stephen Keogh
16: Jason Harris-Wright
17: Cian Healy
18: Simon Shawe
19: Mariano Galarza
20: Jamie Heaslip
21: Isaac Boss
22: Isa Nacewa
23: Eoin O’Malley
REFEREE:Tim Hayes (WRU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Iain Heard, Bob Nevans (both SRU), TMO: Ian Ramage (SRU)
Speaking ahead of Friday night’s Magners League clash in Edinburgh, Leinster Coach Joe Schmidt said:
On areas for improvement: “It will be a tough trip to Edinburgh because they haven’t had a win yet and they’ll be desperate to (do so). They’re a good side with quality right across the board.
“As was demonstrated last week against Treviso, all teams have their quality and if you’re not accurate enough on the night then all of the games will tend to be in the balance. We were disappointed that we didn’t create a great platform to play from, particularly in the conditions which were consistent rain throughout.
“Our defence was something else for us to improve on and we didn’t quite dominate them in the collisions.”
Early impressions of the Magners League: “I have been really impressed by the quality of all the teams in the Magners League so far. There’s no team that you can take for granted. Aironi, for example, have put up a really good fight so far and we know how strong Benetton Treviso are at home.
“It was great for Connacht to get their first away win in two and a half years (away to Glasgow) and they were very unlucky against the Scarlets the previous week. The Scarlets started with a loss away to Treviso on week one, but now they’re in third place, so we’d like to follow their lead having also lost to Treviso to hopefully push ourselves up the ladder as well.”
On Edinburgh: “They have a pretty tough pack and a solid set-piece. You have to have your discipline right because in Chris Paterson they have a very accurate kicker, kicking out of hand he’s very good as well. His counter-attack is also very strong.
“Tim Visser was named on the Magners League Dream Team last year and he has scored some very impressive tries – and I don’t think he’s finished yet either because he got a great one against Ulster last weekend beating four players down a five metre touchline.
“Across the board they’re pretty strong. Mike Blair obviously at 9 is a great director of play. He’s a very good defender and a very competent all-round player so he’s someone we’ve got to keep an eye on this week.”
On the short turnaround this week: “We put training back to Monday evening because of the late return from Italy and we wanted to give the boys a little bit more time to recover. It does affect your turnaround and your opportunity to recover so you really only get one good window to train, and that’s Wednesday for us.”
On Rob Kearney’s 100th appearance: “I’m new to Leinster but to become the 17th Leinster centurion at such a young age, when there’s so much more upside to come, is a great achievement. He’s a genuine athlete as well as a highly skilled player. Him being back on the field for us on Saturday night was a real positive and I think that he’ll get more and more comfortable and hopefully add more to our game.”