Cullen reaches landmark but Sheridan takes centre stage

LEO CULLEN will become only the fifth player in Leinster’s history to reach the 150 cap mark when he leads the side out for tonight’s Magners League clash away to third-placed Cardiff Blues at the Cardiff Park Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm).

The Irish second-row is one of six internationals named in the panel with Isaac Boss, Rhys Ruddock, Devin Toner and Eoin Reddan all being released by Declan Kidney for the clash while Scottish international Nathan Hines has also been allowed to travel to the game, where he starts on the bench.

Coach Joe Schmidt has named Eamonn Sheridan at centre for his first start for the province where he will team up with Eoin O’Malley.

Isa Nacewa, Andrew Conway and Niall Morris — a try-scorer in the 21-16 victory over Aironi last time out — make up the back three while Kevin McLaughlin starts in the back row alongside Dominic Ryan and Rhys Ruddock.

Stan Wright is named in the panel amongst a strong replacements bench for the first time this season, where he is joined by Ireland’s Reddan as Leinster look to extend a seven-match winning streak in all competitions

Shane Horgan misses the game as he continues rehabilitation on the knee injury he sustained in the 36-11 Heineken Cup away victory over Racing-Métro 92 last month.

The Blues come into the game on the back of a three-game Magners League winning streak and have not lost since going down to Munster. In fact they have only recorded one win over an Irish side so far this season, a 22-6 home success against Connacht on September 30.

A win tonight, however, would see them leap-frog their opponents into second, thus greatly increasing their chances of securing a home draw in the semi-final.

Cardiff received a massive boost this week when Wales winger Tom James followed the lead of Sam Warburton in signing a new contract.

James became the joint second highest try scorer for the Blues, equal with Tom Shanklin and one behind Jamie Robinson, when he touched down in last Friday’s win over Glasgow in his 74th match for the side.

CARDIFF BLUES: D Fish; R Mustoe; G Evans, D Hewitt, T James; C Sweeney, T Slater; J Yapp, G Williams, F Filise; D Jones, P Tito (capt), A Pretorius, M Williams, X Rush.

Replacements: R Williams; S Hobbs, S Andrews, B White, M Molitika, R Downes, D Parks, J Loxton.

LEINSTER: I Nacewa; A Conway, E O'Malley, E Sheridan, N Morris; I McKinley, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, C Newland; L Cullen (capt), D Toner; K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock.

Replacements: J Harris-Wright, J McGrath, S Wright, N Hines, S Keogh, E Reddan, I Madigan, M Keating.

More in this section

CourtsRugbyPlace: Cardiff Park StadiumPerson: CullenPerson: SheridanPerson: Leo CullenPerson: Isaac BossPerson: Rhys RuddockPerson: Devin TonerPerson: Eoin ReddanPerson: Declan KidneyPerson: Nathan HinesPerson: Joe SchmidtPerson: Eamonn SheridanPerson: Eoin O’MalleyPerson: Isa NacewaPerson: Andrew ConwayPerson: Niall MorrisPerson: AironiPerson: Kevin McLaughlinPerson: Dominic RyanPerson: Stan WrightPerson: Shane HorganPerson: Tom JamesPerson: Sam WarburtonPerson: JamesPerson: Tom ShanklinPerson: Jamie RobinsonPerson: D FishPerson: R MustoePerson: G EvansPerson: D HewittPerson: T JamesPerson: C SweeneyPerson: T SlaterPerson: J YappPerson: G WilliamsPerson: F FilisePerson: D JonesPerson: P TitoPerson: A PretoriusPerson: M WilliamsPerson: X RushPerson: R WilliamsPerson: S HobbsPerson: S AndrewsPerson: B WhitePerson: M MolitikaPerson: R DownesPerson: D ParksPerson: J LoxtonPerson: I NacewaPerson: A ConwayPerson: E O'MalleyPerson: E SheridanPerson: N MorrisPerson: I McKinleyPerson: I BossPerson: H van der MerwePerson: R StraussPerson: C NewlandPerson: L CullenPerson: D TonerPerson: K McLaughlinPerson: D RyanPerson: R RuddockPerson: J Harris-WrightPerson: J McGrathPerson: S WrightPerson: N HinesPerson: S KeoghPerson: E ReddanPerson: I MadiganPerson: M KeatingEvent: Magners LeagueEvent: Heineken CupOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: Cardiff BluesOrganisation: IrelandOrganisation: ReddanOrganisation: Racing-Metro 92Organisation: BluesOrganisation: MunsterOrganisation: ConnachtOrganisation: CardiffOrganisation: Glasgow
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