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Kearney loses race for fitness

IRELAND full-back Rob Kearney has not been able to overcome the effects of a back injury ahead of Leinster’s Heineken Cup opener against the Exeter Chiefs at The RDS tomorrow.

It was touch-and-go during the week. The Louth man trained fully yesterday only to have a reaction to the injury this morning.

This means natural out-half Ian Madigan moves to 15 in a selection of trust by coach Joe Schmidt, allowing Isa Nacewa to continue on the wing.

Brian O’Driscoll (ankle), Nacewa (haematoma) and Andrew Conway (stinger) have all recovered sufficiently to take their place in the three-quarter line.

More importantly, Kevin McLaughlin has also defied an initial diagnosis of a hyper-extended elbow to take his place in the back row, Leinster’s most depleted unit.

Cian Healy (bicep strain) will make his 100th appearance for the club and captain Leo Cullen is also on board.


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