Richardt Strauss a surprise inclusion for Leinster

Hooker returns from heart surgery to win place on the bench against Ospreys

Richardt Strauss, seen scoring a try against the Ospreys last September, is on the Leinster bench for tomorrow night’s game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Richardt Strauss, seen scoring a try against the Ospreys last September, is on the Leinster bench for tomorrow night’s game. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 12:48

Richardt Strauss has been named among the replacements for Leinster’s final Heineken Cup pool match against the Ospreys tomorrow night.

The hooker had been expected to miss the entire season after undergoing heart surgery last October after being diagnosed with a heart condition.

But Strauss, who told this newspaper last month that he would be fortunate to see any action until at least April or May, has been named as reserve hooker for tomorrow night’s match at the RDS.

“Richardt has progressed excellently to the extent that the medical team has cleared him to play sooner than expected,” the province explained in a statement released this afternoon.

With Leinster requiring a bonus point win and other results to go their way if they are to earn a home quarter-final, coach Matt O’Connor has freshened up his pack from the one that started in Castres four days ago.

Cian Healy, so impressive off the bench in Castres, returns to a front row that also sees Martin Moore come in for Mike Ross.

And there are also two changes in the back row, with Rhys Ruddock and Shane Jennings starting ahead of Kevin McLaughlin and Jordi Murphy.

The Ospreys, who can eliminate Leinster from the competition with a win at the RDS, will have number eight Ryan Jones and prop Adam Jones back in their ranks and coach Steve Tandy is aiming for an upset in Dublin.

“We may be out of contention but we aim to be competitive in every game we play,” Tandy said.

“Friday night is Ospreys versus Leinster, and regardless of our fate in the competition, or the injuries which are impacting on us, this is a rivalry which has a big history and there’s no doubt that the boys are looking forward to the contest.

“It’s an important game for us. We still have everything to play for in the Pro12 and the end of season run-in starts here. We need to build momentum, on and off the field, regardless of the off the field distractions and European disappointment, starting on Friday night.

“We’re a proud team, with a proud record in the Pro12, and out in Dublin, and the rest of the season starts here.”

Leinster: Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore; Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip (capt). Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Leo Cullen, Jordi Murphy, Isaac Boss, Ian Madigan, Zane Kirchner.

Ospreys: Sam Davies; Jeff Hassler, Jonathan Spratt, Ben John, Aisea Natoga; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Ian Evans; Tyler Ardron, Justin Tipuric, Ryan Jones. Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Marc Thomas, Dan Suter, Lloyd Peers, James King, Morgan Allen, Tom Habberfield, Matthew Morgan.

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