Luke Fitzgerald in line to play against Cardiff

Winger will face late fitness test ahead of Thursday night game

Luke Fitzgerald had been named on the left wing for Leinster’s Pro12 clash away to the Cardiff Blues. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Fitzgerald had been named on the left wing for Leinster’s Pro12 clash away to the Cardiff Blues. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 18:07

Luke Fitzgerald has been named in the Leinster starting XV for Thursday night’s Pro12 trip to play Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park (8.05pm).

Fitzgerald has struggled with an adductor muscle injury and will undergo a fitness test ahead of the game with Sam Coghlan-Murray on standby for the left-wing berth. He has had a number of false starts in recent weeks but mercifully for Leinster fans a tweet from the Ireland wing this evening suggested, at least, that he made the plane.

Matt O’Connor makes 10 changes in total from the 31-19 victory over the Dragons last weekend, including a complete change in the pack for the trip to Wales.

Eoin Reddan keeps his place at scrumhalf, with Isaac Boss again set to provide cover for Conor Murray on the Ireland bench for the Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Reddan will be partnered by Jimmy Gopperth, who takes over from Ian Madigan, with Fitzgerald’s inclusion seeing Darragh Fanning switch to the right wing in place of Fergus McFadden.

Richardt Strauss returns from a hamstring injury and forms a new frontrow with Michael Bent at loosehead and Tadhg Furlong at tighthead.

Tom Denton and Quinn Roux form the secondrow, while there is an interesting backrow selection with Kevin McLaughlin captaining the side from blindside, Dominic Ryan playing at openside and 21-year-old Jack Conan coming in for his first Leinster start at number eight.

Mike McCarthy and Rhys Ruddock both start from the bench having trained with Ireland this week.

LEINSTER (v Cardiff Blues, Arms Park, Thursday, 8.05pm): Z Kirchner; D Fanning, B Macken, N Reid, L Fitzgerald/S Coghlan-Murray; J Gopperth, E Reddan; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; T Denton, Q Roux; K McLaughlin (capt), D Ryan, J Conan.

Replacements: A Dundon, J O’Connell, E Byrne, M McCarthy, R Ruddock, L McGrath, I Madigan, D Hudson

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