Kearney returns for Leinster


Rugby:Dave Kearney will make his first competitive start of the season following injury on the right wing in Leinster’s RaboDirect Pro12 clash with the Cardiff Blues at the RDS tomorrow (6.30).

He replaces Isa (Nacewa (broken hand) in the starting team. Jonathan Sexton makes his 98th appearance for the province and requires just five points away from passing the 500 mark for Leinster. Devin Toner starts in the secondrow alongside Leo Cullen while Jordi Murphy is named at openside flanker as Shane Jennings gets a well earned break.

Richardt Strauss’ call-up to the Ireland squad means that the starting Leinster team tomorrow is Irish qualified. Rhys Ruddock is named on the bench having proved his fitness in a British & Irish Cup match against Pontypool.

Cardiff coach Phil Davies makes two changes in the backs from the team that started against Toulon last Sunday. Dafydd Hewitt is named at centre in place of Gavin Evans who took a knock against the French side and Jason Tovey is at outhalf in place of Ceri Sweeney who moves to the bench.

There are also two changes in the pack. Scott Andrews replaces Benoit Bourrust at tighthead while James Down takes over from Lou Reed in the secondrow. Former St Mary’s College and Leinster academy player Robin Copeland is mong the Cardiff replacements.

Davies admitted: “They’ve (Leinster) got a pretty multi faceted team. Their kicking game is well established, their set-piece and their ability to be direct is well established, as is their wide game. So they’ve got a pretty much all round game.

“That is what you need, to be as successful as they’ve been in Europe over the last three or four years. So, we’ve got a big job on our hand and for me the break down is going to be the main area of battle. We’ve got to be red hot both in attack and defence.”

Leinster:I Madigan; D Kearney, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, F McFadden; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; L Cullen (capt), D Toner; K McLaughlin, J Murphy, J Heaslip. Replacements:S Cronin, H ven der Merwe, J Hagan, D Browne, R Ruddock, I Boss, B Macken, F Carr.

Cardiff Blues:L Halfpenny: A Cuthbert, D Hewitt, J Roberts, T James; J Tovey, L Williams; T Filise, M Breeze, S Andrews; B Davies, J Down; J Navidi, S Warburton, A Pretorius (capt). Replacements:R Williams, N Trevett, C Ma’afu, L Reed, R Copeland, L Jones, C Sweeney, T Williams.

Referee:I Davies (Wales)

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