The Leinster team to face the Scarlets in Friday night’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash in the RDS (KO: 7.35pm) – which incorporates the province’s annual ‘Ladies Night’ with proceeds going to Action Breast Cancer – has been named.
Sean Cronin, David Kearney, Fergus McFadden and Eoin Reddan return to the starting line-up after their involvement in Ireland’s last Six Nations game against Wales just under a fortnight ago and are named in a squad which also includes Dominic Ryan, named amongst the replacements after a three and a half month absence through injury.
Kevin McLaughlin leads the team for the second time and he is named in an all-Ireland back-row alongside Shane Jennings and the returning Rhys Ruddock who starts at number eight. Damian Browne again partners Devin Toner at second row, while Jack McGrath makes his 15th appearance in a front row which includes Cronin and Jamie Hagan.
In the backline Eoin O’Malley partners McFadden at centre, with scrum-half Reddan linking up with Ian Madigan – who passed the half century points mark for the province last week when he scored his seventh try in 15 games – at out half.
Heinke van der Merwe is in line to make his 50th appearance for the province should he come on as a replacement and he is named on a bench which includes Isaac Boss and Richardt Strauss.
Looking ahead to Friday night’s game, Leinster Coach Joe Schmidt said that he is expecting a tough game against the Scarlets: “This time of the year is very disjointed; both in terms of player availability and scheduling. We are pleased to welcome back a few of our internationals this week though their training time with us has been limited. Having said that, the quality they bring will hopefully help us to keep some of the momentum from last week's Treviso second half.
“The Scarlets have proven that they can win on the road which makes them dangerous opponents, even though they will also be without some of their international players.
“They play a direct and attacking style of rugby with a lot of speed and movement in their game. Nigel Davies has the team playing in a really positive manner after a tough start to the season and they now sit just outside the semi-final spots – further motivation for them to come to the RDS looking to add a further four points to get closer to play-off contention.
“Of course there’s another important dimension to Friday’s game with Leinster Rugby looking to support the Action Breast Cancer charity. It's a great opportunity to contribute something to a good cause while, at the same time, encouraging ladies to get along and enjoy the game but also the various frills offered on ‘Ladies Night’.
"It’s great to hear that ticket sales have been strong once more for this week’s game so hopefully, with a brief hiatus in the Six Nations, we can welcome another big and, as always, vocal crowd to the RDS.”
Ticket sales for Friday’s game have passed the 16,200 mark and tickets are on sale from www.leinsterrugby.ie, the Leinster Rugby Store (Donnybrook), Spar (Donnybrook) as well as Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.
Before the match, ladies will be pampered in the Concert Hall with some beauty treatments, drinks and live music as well as a Q&A session with Brian O’Driscoll. For a small donation in aid of Action Breast Cancer, girls can enjoy the VIP area where they will be greeted with a Smirnoff Mojito as well as getting a match programme, a goodie bag, free entry to Krystle nightclub that evening and the chance to win a trip for two to see Leinster take on Aironi in Italy.
The search to find Leinster’s Best Dressed Lady, as judged by a selection of players, will also take place around the grounds before kick-off. The players will be looking for the female follower who is most stylishly dressed in blue for a rugby match in cold conditions! The winner will receive a €500 voucher for Brown Thomas, courtesy of Bank of Ireland.
The Official Leinster Supporters Club (OLSC) will be selling limited edition ladies’ Leinster t-shirts at the RDS on the evening with all proceeds going directly to Action Breast Cancer. The cost of these t-shirts is €20.
Once the final whistle has blown, ladies are invited back to the Serpentine Hall where there will be more live music, an opportunity to meet some players and have a bit of fun with the Leinster Rugby Blind Date.
15: Isa Nacewa
14: David Kearney
13: Eoin O’Malley
12: Fergus McFadden
11: Fionn Carr
10: Ian Madigan
9: Eoin Reddan
1: Jack McGrath
2: Sean Cronin
3: Jamie Hagan
4: Damian Browne
5: Devin Toner
6: Kevin McLaughlin CAPTAIN
7: Shane Jennings
8: Rhys Ruddock
16: Richardt Strauss
17: Heinke van der Merwe
18: Nathan White
19: Leo Auva’a
20: Dominic Ryan
21: Isaac Boss
22: Noel Reid
23: Brendan Macken
REFEREE: Nigel Owens (WRU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: David Wilkinson, Stuart Gaffakin (both IRFU), 4th OFFICIAL: Ed Kenny (Leinster Rugby Referees), 5th OFFICIAL: John Montayne (Leinster Rugby Referees), TMO: Kevin Beggs (IRFU)