Leinster face long, hard slog to get the job done against Wasps

Leo Cullen’s Leinster have brought the smiles back to the faces of their fans.

Leinster face long, hard slog to get the job done against Wasps

Running rugby and offloads are back on the menu, but all the signs point to a tighter, more cautious approach for their Champions Cup opener against a dangerous Wasps side at the RDS tomorrow.

Recent rainfall levels should drop off long before kick-off, but Cullen will send out a side for his first European game in charge that has had very little game time together and one which will inevitably struggle for rhythm.

The centre partnership of Noel Reid and Fergus McFadden is the most obvious case in point with the pair lining up in the midfield together for the first time and they are part of a back line that appears more solid than spectacular.

It certainly pales in comparison to that of their opponents. Charles Piutau, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly and Frank Halai are names to purr over, so Leinster will hope that Jonathan Sexton has more of a say in the game’s patterns than his counterpart Ruaridh Jackson.

If the visitors can provide quick ball to their back line then they have the players with the requisite skill and pace to do serious damage.

Similar concerns exist up front. Leinster’s back row almost always stands up better than their opposition’s on paper, but Sam Jones, George Smith and Nathan Hughes will bow to no-one while Wasps look to have more oomph in the second row, too.

The bookies have Leinster as nine-point favourites, which seems excessive. Back against Leinster at home in Europe? It just wouldn’t feel right, but it promises to be a long, hard slog at the office tomorrow.

LEINSTER:

Isa Nacewa; Z Kirchner, F McFadden, N Reid, D Kearney; J Sexton, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, J Murphy, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements:

S Cronin, C Healy, T Furlong, H Triggs, J Conan, L McGrath, I Madigan, G Ringrose.

WASPS:

C Piutau; C Wade, E Daly, B Jacobs, F Halai; R Jackson, J Simpson; M Mullan, C Festuccia, J Cooper-Woolley, J Launchbury, B Davies, S Jones, G Smith, G Hughes.

Replacements:

A Johnson, S McIntyre, P Swainston, J Gaskell, G Thompson, D Robson, A Lozowski, S Tagicakibau.

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