Leinster eye top spot in Cardiff

A late decision will be made on the fitness of wing Luke Fitzgerald

Luke Fitzgerald training with Leinster at UCD earlier this week. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald training with Leinster at UCD earlier this week. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho


The Luke Fitzgerald saga continues. Ideally the issue regarding Irish rugby’s most famous abdominal/adductor strain may be resolved tonight in Cardiff if he takes the pitch. His talent adds value to any team.

That’s not to denigrate the job that Sam Coghlan Murray would do if called upon. The UCD wing bears more than a passing resemblance to Wales and Lions icon Shane Williams in stature and footwork. Darragh Fanning switches to the right wing. It’s something of a surprise, having watched a couple of A matches this season, that Andrew Boyle hasn’t been give an opportunity.

Eoin Reddan’s presence at scrumhalf means Isaac Boss has recovered the mild concussion sustained against the Dragons and is fit enough to take his place on the bench for Ireland’s visit to Twickenham. Jimmy Gopperth and Ian Madigan flip roles from the last day with the New Zealander starting.

Front five
Richardt Strauss has recovered from his hamstring problem and is included in a new -look front five, Kevin McLaughlin returns to captain the side, Dominic Ryan is named at openside while Old Belvedere and underage international number eight Jack Conan makes his first start for the province. Rhys Ruddock and Mike McCarthy were away training with Ireland during the week and have been named among the replacements.

Cardiff Blues will be still smarting from a late collapse that saw them go down 27-20 to the Glasgow Warriors last week . Phil Davies has made seven changes. Flanker Josh Navidi returns and joins Kilkenny -born Robin Copeland in the backrow.

Exciting young wing Owen Jenkins is one of four changes to the back division. Gavin Evans is named at inside centre, where he will partner Isaia Tuifua, while a new-look half back pairing will see Gareth Davies and Lewis Jones link up.

Sam Hobbs will captain the team from the front row while James Down is recalled for his second start of the season in the tournament. Both teams are considerably understrength but Leinster’s more coherent backline may give them the edge.