Thursday 21 September 2017

Cheika to hand half-back duo chance to stake Ireland claims

Jonathan Sexton has an opportunity to force his way into the Ireland team Photo: Getty Images
Jonathan Sexton has an opportunity to force his way into the Ireland team Photo: Getty Images
Eoin Reddan Photo: Getty Images
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan look set to be given the chance to force their way into the Ireland team for Saturday week's trip to Twickenham.

Leinster coach Michael Cheika has hinted that the half-back pair would start in Saturday's Magners League clash with Llanelli at the RDS -- providing an opportunity for them to leapfrog Munster's Ronan O'Gara and Tomas O'Leary in the national pecking-order following the drubbing in Paris.

Ireland U-20 full-back Andrew Conway is also included in the Leinster squad, along with David Kearney, Eoin O'Malley and Eoin Sheriff, who were in fine form in the 22-10 win over Exeter Chiefs in the British & Irish Cup last week.

Sean O'Brien and Kevin McLaughlin are available after being released by the Ireland set-up as Leinster prepare for a crucial five-game stretch in the league that could see them seal a semi-final spot before they return to European action against Clermont on April 9.

Giant second-row Devin Toner, who was involved in Declan Kidney's senior squad camps and put in two impressive shifts for the Wolfhounds, agrees that Ireland's fringe players have an opportunity to put themselves in the picture this weekend.

"The lads are professional enough to know they have to show what they can do," he said "He (Kidney) knows the lads who are involved and there's no doubt that he is going to be watching them."

Regan King returns to the Scarlets side and the up-and-coming Rhys Priestland is also expected to start.

Elsewhere, Connacht coach Michael Bradley could have a scrum-half crisis on his hands ahead of Sunday's clash away to the Ospreys as Frank Murphy (calf) and Kieran Campbell (shoulder) are both doubtful. Lock Andrew Browne is set to miss out with an ankle injury.

Stade Francais prop David Attoub's appeal against his 70-week ban for gouging Ulster's Stephen Ferris will be heard on Tuesday, March 2.

Irish Independent

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