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Deep Blues can pasta test

IF ever there was an excuse for Leinster to down tools and submissively take what is definitely coming to them, this is it in the shadow of their Heineken Cup destruction of Glasgow.

The 'L' of old would succumb away from the glare of the television cameras and the comfort of The RDS. This was the case as recently as last September when Joe Schmidt was new into the job and his players were bullied 29-13 at this very venue in the Magners League.

More significantly, there were 10 first team regulars on duty that day. Mike Ross and Cian Healy were there. Nathan Hines, Shane Jennings and Sean O'Brien too.

The signals from the Leinster camp this week are that the Irish Rugby Football Union Player Welfare Programme will take precedence over club matters.

However, there is a stronger, deeper look to the Leinster of this season. Okay, Hines is one of those players you simply can't replace. But Schmidt has shown savvy in the transfer market.

The difference between this season and last can be seen in the identity of the second choice tight-head. The super-sized and largely anonymous Clint Newland was a panic buy. No doubt about it. He was quickly moved on.

This time Leinster have imported former Waikato captain Nathan White. There is plenty of evidence to suggest, on minimum game time, that he fits the mould. He looks sharp on his feet and impressive in contact.

In addition, Schmidt has delivered on developing the next generation. Ian Madigan is a transformed player. Eoin O'Malley is blossoming. Devin Toner is making giant strides, as you would expect.

Treviso have made strides themselves in no time at all, holding the vaunted Ospreys to a 26-all draw in the Heineken Cup just last weekend. They will not stand on ceremony.

The most significant sight was the two superbly engineered tries from their backs for 6'4" wing Benjamin de Jager and scrum-half, Tobias Botes. They are starting to make an impact in the outside channels.

They also have a bully-boy pack of forwards that will make a contest of it with any eight and international experience from a squad containing 22 Italian internationals and a couple of high-class imports.

Benetton Treviso v Leinster tomorrow 2.0 (live RTE2)

Verdict: Leinster


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