Friday 31 March 2017

Newland backing for makeshift Blues

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

LEINSTER visit the home of the Ospreys tomorrow in the first meeting between the sides since last season's Magners League grand final.

On that occasion, the Welsh region ruined Michael Cheika's going away party at the RDS.

With a host of stars unavailable due to the Autumn internationals, there are a number of less familiar faces on both sides.

Joe Schmidt has a mix of youth and experience as Leo Cullen captains the side with Isa Nacewa, second in the league's scoring charts, positioned at full-back. The exciting Andrew Conway gets another chance on the wing while Eoin O'Malley will continue his development alongside Fergus McFadden in midfield.

Jason Harris-Wright makes his first start of the season at hooker in a front row that includes props Heinke van der Merwe and Clint Newland. Kiwi prop Newland made his debut against the Dragons last week but admitted that the interpretation of the scrum in this hemisphere will take some getting used to.

"I thought it (the Dragons game) went okay. The play around the park was quite quick and the only thing I found to be a bit strange was the scrum. All of the techniques and that are a bit different over here compared to back home," said Newland.

"I'm enjoying the club and all the boys have been really good to get on with. The two games in five days will be a test of our resources, but, from what I've seen, I reckon the boys will handle that okay. All of our training has been quite sharp lately.

"I had been playing over in New Zealand for 12 years and I thought that now was a good time for a change. So far, I'm glad that I made the change. I've enjoyed my time at the club so far and I just hope that it carries on."

While Leinster were taking five points from the Dragons last weekend, the Ospreys scraped out of Galway with a win after Connacht out-half Miah Nikora missed a late penalty that would have given Elwood's men a vital win and Ospreys coach Scott Johnson acknowledged his side will have to up their performance.

"We've planned for this period, knowing that we would need to utilise our squad fully when the international boys are away," he said.

"We believe that we are doing things the right way when it comes to developing players. This group has worked hard over the last month with performances improving week on week, and in Connacht they coped with the step up in intensity."

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster -- I Nacewa; S Horgan, E O'Malley, F McFadden, A Conway; I Madigan, I Boss; H van der Merwe, J Harris-Wright, C Newland; L Cullen, E O'Donoghue; D Ryan, S Jennings, S Keogh. Reps: T Sexton, J McGrath, M Ross, E Sheriff, R Ruddock, P O'Donohoe, I McKinley, D Kearney.

Ospreys -- B Davies; G Owen, S Parker, A Beck, R Fussell; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, C Mitchell; I Gough, I Evans; J Tipuric, M Holah, J Collins. Reps: M Davies, J Rees, C Griffiths, J Goode, T Smith, J Nutbrown, M Morgan, T Isaacs.

REF -- D Wilkinson.

Ospreys v Leinster,

Live, tomorrow, TG4, 4.55

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport