Leinster make seven changes for Ospreys
Connacht coach Pat Lam has kept the same starting team for the fourth sucessive match
Leinster’s Gordon D’Arcy is tackled by Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor has made seven changes to the team that lost to Toulon for tomorrow night’s RaboDirect Pro12 game against the Ospreys at the Liberty stadium (7.05).
Fergus McFadden (knee) is injured while Brian O’Driscoll and Eoin Reddan are rested. Zane Kirchner, who replaced McFadden in France, starts on the right wing, while Gordon D’Arcy moves to outside centre with Noel Reid, a standout performer for Leinster A in the British & Irish Cup, named at 12.
Isaac Boss deputises for Reddan with Luke McGrath named among the replacements. Up front Sean Cronin and Martin Moore come into the frontrow, Leo Cullen is back to captain the side, while Kevin McLaughlin is restored to blindside flanker. Davin Toner and Mike Ross are named among the replacements.
Promising young centre Collie O’Shea is named on the bench but there is not Ian Madigan. In the event of an injury to Jimmy Gopperth, Reid would move to outhalf, a position he played for St Michael’s College, Clontarf and Leinster A and at underage international level. Luke Fitzgerald is injured.
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor said: “”We were relatively lucky last week in that most of the blokes came through the game with only bumps and bruises so we are able to keep a lot of the combinations together from last week. That will help us in terms of our execution and we will need a better all-round performance against a quality Ospreys side.”
Connacht coach Pat Lam has named an unchanged Connacht side for the fourth game in a row with the team traveling to take on Ulster tomorrow night at Ravenhill (7.05). The 23-year-old Mick Kearney will earn his 50th Connacht cap starting in the second row with Aly Muldowney.
The only change on the bench comes in the forwards with Academy prop Finlay Bealham replacing an injured Nathan White. Lamsaid: “When you consider the front liners we’ve been missing these last few months - Brett Wilkinson, Sean Henry, Nathan White, Craig Clarke, Willie Faloon and Jake Heenan - the guys who’ve played in the last five games have put in an outstanding effort and the performances have shown that. And so we go up to Belfast with the same group of guys.
“Willie Faloon made an impressive return from injury and we were planning to give him a start this week but he pulled up with a tight hamstring in the last training run yesterday. It’s unfortunate but we don’t want to risk him so soon after his return. We’ll hopefully see him next week at the Sportsground.
“Young Eoghan Masterson from the Academy will get his sixth start at openside where he is playing out of position but showing time and time again his ability to adapt and slot in to an experienced back row. Nathan White also pulled up with a calf injury so we’re traveling with Academy prop Finlay Bealham this week who has impressed in training and the two games he’s been called upon for.
“Ulster have of course suffered some injuries to their front liners as well but they have such strength in depth with the option to replace one international with another and we don’t anticipate any dip in performance.
“They are a well-coached side and last week they put in a magnificent effort against Saracens with 14 men for 75 minutes. But what that performance showed is the quality they have and the team spirit they possess. No doubt it has been a hard week for them but we are under no illusions. We expect them to come out even stronger with the passionate Ravenhill crowd behind them.”
Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, G D’Arcy, N Reid, D Kearney; J Gopperth, I Boss; C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore; L Cullen (capt), M McCarthy; K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements: A Dundon, M Bent, M Ross, D Toner, J Murphy, L McGrath, C O’Shea, D Fanning.
Connacht: R Henshaw; T O’Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Carr; D Parks, K Marmion; D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, R Ah You; A Muldowney, M Kearney; J Muldoon (capt), E Masterson, E McKeon. Replacements: D Heffernan, R Loughney, F Bealham, M Swift, A Browne, F Murphy, M Nikora, D Leader.