O’Connor makes 10 changes for Glasgow trip
Saturday, March 01, 2014
By Daire Walsh
Leinster coach Matt O’Connor has made 10 changes for tonight’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Glasgow Warriors at the RDS (8.30pm kick-off), where the Blue Army will be hoping to continue the excellent form that has helped them remain unbeaten in 2014.
With the RBS Six Nations on hold this weekend, the Leinster team bears a greater resemblance to their most recent home outing against Newport Gwent Dragons on February 14 than to the one that secured an impressive 34-22 victory over Cardiff Blues six days later.
In the backs, Luke Fitzgerald indirectly replaces Brendan Macken while for the second game in succession, a completely new pack has been chosen by O’Connor, with Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Martin Moore and Jordi Murphy all returning, fresh from their cameo roles against England.
Captain Leo Cullen will lead the team from the second-row alongside Mike McCarthy, while the presence of Rhys Ruddock and Shane Jennings in the blindside and openside positions shows the back-row options available to the province.
The latest encounter against Gregor Townsend’s men is an ideal opportunity for Fergus McFadden to force his way into Joe Schmidt’s plans for next weekend, with Ian Madigan also eager to impress alongside half-back partner Eoin Reddan.
However, in spite of the momentum they carry into this contest, O’Connor and his coaching staff know they face stern resistance from the Warriors, who are set to welcome US sevens sensation Carlin Isles to Scotstoun in the coming weeks.
Glasgow overcame the reigning champions on a 12-6 scoreline on the opening day of the season last September, and another success over the Blues would greatly enhance their play-off prospects.
They’re also benefiting from the brief international hiatus, as Tim Swinson, out-half Ruaridh Jackson and Tommy Seymour all return from Scotland duty.
Townsend’s hand is still slightly forced by the absence of Lion Sean Maitland, Pete Horne, Al Kellock and DTH van der Merwe, but with Peter Murchie making his long-awaited return from a dislocated shoulder at full-back, they’ll be looking to bounce back from their recent reversal against the Dragons.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; D Fanning, F McFadden, N Reid, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Moore; L Cullen, M McCarthy; R Ruddock, S Jennings, J Murphy.
Replacements: R Strauss, M Bent, M Ross, T Denton, D Ryan, I Boss, J Gopperth, D Hudson.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: P Murchie; T Seymour, R Vernon, F Russell, N Matawalu; R Jackson, C Cusiter; G Reid, P MacArthur, M Cusack; T Swinson, J Gray; J Eddie, R Harley, J Strauss.
Replacements: F Brown, J Yanuyanutawa, E Kalman, L Nakarawa, T Holmes, H Pyrgos, M Bennett, L Jones.