Learning curve to get steeper for Leinster’s youth

LEINSTER’S conveyor belt of talent has earned lavish praise in recent years but the latest up-and-comers will continue up what has been a steep recent learning curve tonight when they take on Benetton Treviso at the RDS.

A straightforward win on paper, one would think, but only two weeks have passed since the Irish province squeezed past a somewhat unlucky Aironi at the same venue with five points to spare.

A more obvious warning flag is the first ever meeting between these two clubs, a game played five months ago at the Stadio di Monigo when the home side inflicted a shock 29-13 defeat on their illustrious visitors.

That defeat prompted one disgruntled Leinster fan to steal into the post-match press conference where he asked coach Joe Schmidt if it was the result which marked the beginning of the end for Leinster rugby.

Clearly, complacency should not be a factor tonight.

As was the case a fortnight ago, Leinster will be devoid of their front-line internationals, forcing Joe Schmidt to name a first XV containing eight academy graduates and a bench with seven more locally recruited and trained fresh faces.

Isa Nacewa has been handed the honour of wearing the armband for the first time but a legion of youth separates the number 15 from Isaac Boss at nine, the only other back with any serious experience to his name.

There is more know-how up front.

Stan Wright will make his first start of the season in a strong front-row that also contains Heinke van der Merwe and hooker Richardt Strauss while Irish internationals Devin Toner and Kevin McLaughlin are also on duty.

Leinster currently lie fourth in the Magners League, one point better than the Scarlets who they face in Rodney Parade last week and five ahead of Ulster who have a game in hand and who are due to play in Dublin in mid-April.

Leinster have to travel to Thomond Park at the start of April and are coming off an 11-3 loss in Cardiff, all of which means they can ill afford to flirt with another defeat tonight.

Last week’s loss in Wales has certainly cut into their margin for error with just seven games to play but Schmidt was enthused by the performance, even if it was just the second time this season when his charges had failed to register a try.

“We did get it down over the line once and I think the lead-up play to that was first-class,” said Schmidt.

“We did put a lot of phases together. We created another two or three opportunities to get over the line that we didn’t take.”

Treviso have not won outside Italy since December 2007 but lie eighth in the standings having won three of their last five games. Joseph Maddock replaces Brendan Williams at full-back while Benjamin De Jager starts on the left wing. Tobias Botes is unable to feature meaning Ludovico Nitoglia will be his replacement at scrum half.

The front row changes completely. Michele Rizzo and Enrico Ceccato start while Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet is at tight-head prop to make up for the absence of Lorenzo Cittadini.

LEINSTER: I Nacewa; A Conway, E O’Malley, E Sheridan, D Kearney; I McKinley, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, S Wright; E O’Donoghue, D Toner; K McLaughlin, D Ryan, S Keogh. Replacements: J Harris-Wright, J McGrath, C Newland, R Ruddock, P Ryan, P O’Donohoe, I Madigan, N Morris.

BENETTON TREVISO: J Maddock; M Sepe, E Galon, A Vilk, B De Jager; W De Waal, L Nitoglia; M Rizzo, E Ceccato, I Fernandez Royet; A Pavanello, C van Zyl; B Vermaak, G Padro, M Filipucci. Replacements: F Sbaraglini, M Muccignat, P Di Santo, E Pavanello, M Sutto, A Pratichetti, A Marcato, S Picone.

Picture: FRONT ROW, CENTRE: Cook Islands prop Stan Wright will make his first start of the season for Leinster against Treviso tonight. Picture: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

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RugbyPlace: IrishPlace: Stadio di MonigoPlace: DublinPlace: Thomond ParkPlace: CardiffPlace: WalesPlace: ItalyPlace: Cook IslandsPerson: AironiPerson: Joe SchmidtPerson: Isa NacewaPerson: Isaac BossPerson: Stan WrightPerson: Heinke van der MerwePerson: Richardt StraussPerson: Devin TonerPerson: Kevin McLaughlinPerson: Rodney ParadePerson: SchmidtPerson: Joseph MaddockPerson: Brendan WilliamsPerson: Benjamin De JagerPerson: Tobias BotesPerson: Ludovico NitogliaPerson: Michele RizzoPerson: Enrico CeccatoPerson: Ignacio Fernandez RouyetPerson: Lorenzo CittadiniPerson: I NacewaPerson: A ConwayPerson: E O’MalleyPerson: E SheridanPerson: D KearneyPerson: I McKinleyPerson: I BossPerson: H van der MerwePerson: R StraussPerson: S WrightPerson: E O’DonoghuePerson: D TonerPerson: K McLaughlinPerson: D RyanPerson: S KeoghPerson: J Harris-WrightPerson: J McGrathPerson: C NewlandPerson: R RuddockPerson: P RyanPerson: P O’DonohoePerson: I MadiganPerson: N MorrisPerson: BenettonPerson: J MaddockPerson: M SepePerson: E GalonPerson: A VilkPerson: B de JagerPerson: W De WaalPerson: L NitogliaPerson: M RizzoPerson: E CeccatoPerson: I Fernandez RoyetPerson: A PavanelloPerson: C Van ZylPerson: B VermaakPerson: G PadroPerson: M FilipucciPerson: F SbaragliniPerson: M MuccignatPerson: P Di SantoPerson: E PavanelloPerson: M SuttoPerson: A PratichettiPerson: A MarcatoPerson: S PiconePerson: FRONT ROWPerson: Paul MohanOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: Benetton TrevisoOrganisation: Leinster RugbyOrganisation: ScarletsOrganisation: UlsterOrganisation: Treviso
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