Leinster languish near the bottom of the table, but have played just one match, whilst some of their rivals have had up to three outings. It’s clearly a false placing and it can be rectified by winning tonight.
Leinster lost the opening fixture to Edinburgh, but now have an opportunity to atone for that with Hickie’s return. They should also be boosted by the availability of Keith Gleeson and Reggie Corrigan.
Adam Byrnes replaces Trevor Hogan, who has an ankle injury, and that is the only change to the pack.
Leinster have named Rob Kearney at full back and Luke Fitzgerald on the right wing, both of them recent former Irish Examiner Youth Sports Star award winners.
David Young has selected a Cardiff team that shows 10 changes to the side that lost to Ospreys (after struggling to overcome a weakened Munster team in the opener) on Wednesday. Numerous injuries in that match has forced some changes, and both new signings Ben Blair and Ed Fairhurst will be involved in the game.
Australian Blair is named to make his first outing for the Blues, and new signing from Canada Ed Fairhurst takes his place on the bench.
The injuries are worrying, though. Coaching director David Young remarked: “Robin Sowden-Taylor suffered a fracture dislocation of his right ankle. He spent the night in the University of Wales Hospital and is due for an operation this weekend. It looks like he will be out for six to eight months.
“Additionally, Rhys Williams has a hip flexor injury and could be out for three weeks. Our hookers also suffered injuries, with Rhys Thomas sustaining a dead leg and Duane Goodfield has a nasty gash above his right eye.
“Mike Phillips suffered an abductor strain (groin area) and Nicky Robinson has bruising on the hip. Jamie Robinson looks to be out for a further two to three weeks with a groin strain as will Andy Powell who has a shoulder injury,” continued Young.
Canadian international Fairhurst, a scrum half/utility back, has signed from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. The 27 year old, who arrived earlier in the week (32 caps for Canada) featured in his country’s recent 56-7 victory over the US in a World Cup Qualifier. Fairhusrst also captained Canada West, who won the North American 4 Tournament this season. He comes highly recommended from former Cardiff backs coach Geraint John, Canada’s High Performance Coach.
Apart from his preferred position, Fairhurst has also played four times at full back with the Canadians, and was also a member of Canada’s 2003 Rugby World Cup squad after making his debut in May 2001 against the US.
: R. Kearney, L. Fitzgerald, K. Lewis, M. Berne, D. Hickie, F. Contepomi (captain), C. Whitaker, R. McCormack, H. Vermaas, W. Green, A. Byrnes, O. Finegan, S. Keogh, J. Heaslip, N. Ronan.
: R. Corrigan, B. Jackman, D. Toner, K. Gleeson, G. Easterby, C. Warner, G. Brown.
: B. Blair, C. Czekaj, T. Riley, M. Stcherbina, M. Luveitasau, N. MacLeod, W. Evans, J. Yapp, G. Williams, G. Powell, B. Davies, J. Goode, M. Lewis, X Rush (captain), M. Williams.
: T. Felise, R. Johnson, R. Sidoli, S. Morgan, E. Fairhurst, D. Flanagan, T. Shanklin.=