Last week saw the Australian’s first home game in charge end in stalemate against the province’s bogey boys, the Ospreys. Next on the agenda is tonight’s meeting with a Glasgow Warriors side — probably the league’s most improved side in recent times.
Leinster need no reminding of that. Though the Irish side won all three meetings last season, just 13 points separated the pair in total, with May’s Pro12 semi-final at the RDS the closest of them all.
“They’re backing themselves and already talking up the fact that this is a huge game against us,” said back row Kevin McLaughlin “They probably felt they could have beaten us in the RDS twice towards the end of last season. They’re going to be rating their chances of getting into a semi and maybe beyond it this year and going one better.”
Leinster have made three personnel changes from the 15 that started last week, with Tom Denton replacing Devin Toner at lock and Isaac Boss making his seasonal bow at No 9.
Of greatest note is the sight of Ian Madigan making his first start of the season at full-back, which means Jimmy Gopperth will have worn the No 10 shirt for all five of the province’s games so far.
Madigan was in the driving seat to replace Jonathan Sexton after his displays last season, but Gopperth has impressed on arrival from Newcastle Falcons and it will be intriguing to see how O’Connor utilises his resources as the season progresses.
As expected, Lote Tuqiri’s first run out in a Leinster jersey has been held over for a week, while Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend has opted to make six changes, one positional, to the side which stole the win from Ulster’s grasp at Ravenhill last weekend.
Scrum-half Chris Cusiter starts for the first time in just under a year, while Alex Dunbar, Jon Welsh, Chris Fusaro and Richie Vernon also come into the 15. Sean Lamont moves from centre to wing.
“They’re really good with the ball in hand,” said McLaughlin. “They love to offload, they’ve really fast wingers, a strong back row and they’ve recruited a couple of good guys in as well so it’s not going to be any easier this weekend.”
GLASGOW WARRIORS: S Hogg; S Lamont, M Bennett, A Dunbar, DTH van der Merwe; R Jackson, C Cusiter; R Grant, P MacArthur, J Welsh; J Gray, T Swinson; R Harley, C Fusaro, R Vernon.
LEINSTER: I Madigan; D Kearney, B Macken, G D’Arcy, D Fanning; J Gopperth, I Boss; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross; M McCarthy, T Denton; K McLaughlin, S Jennings, J Murphy.
Referee: P Fitzgibbon (IRFU).