Sport Rugby

Sunday 11 December 2016

Healy: P****d off Ross will want to make point

Leinster v Connacht, Live, Sky Sports 2, 5.15

Published 29/10/2016 | 02:30

Ireland's Mike Ross. Picture: Sportsfile
Ireland's Mike Ross. Picture: Sportsfile

It may be Halloween but hard to dress this one up as anything other than a bit of a let-down for those expecting a full-on derby like last May's Pro 12 final.

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Leinster supporters may well be seeking vengeance for that May humbling in Edinburgh but one can understand Leo Cullen deftly avoiding the word - after all, only one player who started that day will renew his role this evening.

Ireland's (latest) historic tilt at ending a century of blanks against the All Blacks overshadows all; ironically, Mike Ross is the sole survivor from May; once the first name on Joe Schmidt's team sheet, his name has, it seems, been rolled up and tossed in the bin.

For now, that is, according to his front-row mucker Cian Healy a starter today as he prepares to play support to Ireland's number one number one Jack McGrath in Chicago next week.

"This could be something that could spur on a little bit out of him. I texted him and he was accepting but p****d off too.

"Certain things make him tick and this could pull something out of him. He is pulling out top speeds in training and gassing all of us in training. He has definitely more to give."

Once more Joey Carbery will hold the interest but, Ross aside, visiting full-back Tiernan O'Halloran will be another keen to demonstrate that Schmidt may have erred in omitting one of the stars of the South African near-miss last summer.

Cullen insists Connacht are favourites as they have a more settled squad - i.e. not the 16 internationals Leinster must juggle with - but the Westerners haven't won in Dublin for 14 years.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster - I Nacewa (capt); A Byrne, R O'Loughlin, N Reid, B Daly; J Carbery, J Gibson-Park; C Healy, S Cronin, M Ross; M Kearney, I Nagle; D Leavy, S O'Brien, J Conan.

Reps: J Tracy, P Dooley, M Bent, M McCarthy, J van der Flier, L McGrath, R Byrne, R Kearney.

Connacht - T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, P Robb, C Ronaldson, C Kelleher; J Carty, K Marmion; JP Cooney, D Heffernan, C Carey; Q Roux, A Browne; S O'Brien, J Heenan, J Muldoon (capt). Reps: S Delahunt, D Robertson-McCoy, F Bealham, J Cannon, E McKeon, C Blade, B Aki, S Ili.

Ref - J Lacey (IRFU)

Irish Independent

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