Kearney back in harness for Leinster’s Italian job

ROB KEARNEY is restored to the full-back position on the Leinster side as they go in search of Magners League points against tricky opposition in Italy today (6.05pm).

Kearney can expect to be under scrutiny from Benetton Treviso, who managed to turn over the Scarlets in their opening league clash at the Stadio di Monigo a couple of weeks ago.

The Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has also been able to name Gordon D’Arcy and Eoin Reddan for the first time this season to bring considerably more international experience to a side with a 50-50 record, even if some heavyweights such as Brian O’Driscoll and Leo Cullen are still missing.

Leinster lost the opening game away to Glasgow off the back of a disappointing performance and then shrugged off some lethargy to come good in the latter stages of the game with Cardiff Blues last week.

The presence of Isa Nacewa in the back division is another boost for Leinster given that he scored 19 points in the 34-23 victory over the Blues.

In the pack, Cian Healy comes into the front row after making a second half appearance last weekend to partner John Fogarty and Mike Ross, while Rhys Ruddock forms a back-row partnership with Sean O’Brien and skipper Shane Jennings.

Isaac Boss, Fergus McFadden and Heinke van der Merwe are named amongst the replacements.

All three might well be called upon, however, for there appears to be some conviction within this Treviso squad after opening up the Scarlets late in the game to secure a shock 34-28 win on day one. That they lost 16-32 away to Ospreys last week was no shame and they are keenly looking forward to a second home fixture playing in front of at least 6,000 people.

That is a good crowd by Italian standards and, indeed, not too short of the Magners League average for last year of 8,200. Leinster, according to a club source, will be a bigger draw than the Scarlets.

Still, that pales into insignificance given the news that 43,000 tickets have now been sold for the Magners League clash between Leinster and Munster in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, October 2.


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