Sport Rugby

Monday 5 December 2016

O'Malley hoping to set Blues' season in motion

Published 09/09/2011 | 05:00

AFTER the disappointing manner of last week's defeat to the Ospreys, Leinster centre Eoin O'Malley believes the home comforts of the RDS can help kick-start the province's season against the Dragons.

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Twelve months ago, Joe Schmidt's side also endured a shaky start to a season, before stringing together 17 wins on home soil in both domestic and European competition.

"For us as a group, we spoke a lot about how we have to perform as much as getting the win this week, and about the proud record we have at the RDS and how much it means to us," O'Malley said. "With the fans and the support they give us, we want to go out and throw ourselves about and out-work the opposition. If we do that, we're not far away."

O'Malley partners Brendan Macken in midfield as Luke Fitzgerald, who picked up a knee injury last week, is not risked. Schmidt has also opted for change at half-back, where Cillian Willis and Ian Madigan replace John Cooney and Mat Berquist. The pack remains unchanged and Rhys Ruddock skippers the side once more.

unfamiliar

And despite the unfamiliar look to the team, O'Malley says the expectation on the players remains the same. "Last year I think we used a total of 50 players in the Magners League, so I don't think there was ever an over-reliance on the big guys to produce match-winning performances every time.

"It was very much a squad effort and coming back in at the start of July, I think everyone knew the reality was that we were going to be missing a good chunk of our squad, key players in key positions. I think a lot of guys would have seen it as a big opportunity to put a claim on a jersey, to put down a marker."

The Dragons opened their campaign with a defeat to Munster at Musgrave Park and they could hand Jamie Smith a first appearance for the club since his switch from Ulster.

Leinster are hosting a Club Open Day throughout the province on Sunday in a bid to encourage club participation from people who may not have played rugby before. Visit www.leinsterrugby.ie for more.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster -- I Nacewa; F Carr, B Macken, E O'Malley, D Kearney; I Madigan, C Willis; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, J Hagan; D Browne, D Toner; K McLaughlin, D Ryan, R Ruddock. Reps: A Dundon, J McGrath, J O'Connell/N White, M Flanagan, L Auva'a, J Cooney, M Berquist, D Hudson.

Dragons -- M Thomas; A Hughes, T Riley, P Leach, M Poole; J Tovey, J Bedford; P Price, T Willis, B Castle; A Jones, R Sidoli; A Coombs, G Thomas, H Ellis. Reps: R Buckley, N Williams, D Way, L Evans, J Groves, W Evans, S Jones, J Smith.

REF -- A Macpherson (SRU).

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