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Fear will drive Blues

THE Ospreys v Leinster, The Liberty Stadium, TOMORROW 4.0 -- RTé2

To suggest Leinster hold no fear for the Ospreys is something of an understatement. Recent history rests very much on the side of the current PRO12 champions.

The Welsh region won all three contests in the league last season, including that magnificent final at the RDS where they beat Leinster at their own game.

Moreover, the Irish province have not had the better of this specific argument since September 2009, falling three times at the Liberty to the Ospreys' tempo and continuity.

However, fear can be the greatest motivational weapon in the tactical toolbox of a coach.

Joe Schmidt will push the value of payback for how the Ospreys scuppered Leinster's ambition for an unprecedented double last May.

Schmidt is restricted to using two backs and one forward from the collective that 'hockeyed' Cardiff Blues last Saturday.

Even then, Ian Madigan, at fly-half, and Dave Kearney, at full-back, are playing in a different position, while Devin Toner will be partnered by Damian Browne instead of Leo Cullen in the engine room.

New Zealander Andrew Goodman will make his debut in the inside centre slot. On physical appearance alone, he looks like the sort of 16-stone specimen a runner might want to avoid at all costs.

The cruel twist of Brian O'Driscoll's ankle and the heavy workload Gordon D'Arcy will have to endure in the coming weeks could make Goodman's signing a smart piece of business.

Dave Kearney has shown others how to return from injury with impressive assurance. He looked razor-sharp against Cardiff and will now fill the boots usually reserved for his older brother.



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This releases Ian Madigan to move forward into his natural position as an out-half, after being forced to stomach his fair share of Ireland disappointment while others have moved ahead of him.

For their part, the Ospreys are able to call on half-a-dozen from the side that secured a bonus-point home win against Connacht last Saturday.

"We know that Leinster may have an unfamiliar look to their team this weekend. But we also know that as European champions they have real strength in depth," said Ospreys' backs coach Gruff Rees.

"Whatever players wear their shirt we will be in for a real test. Our preparation is all about focusing on our own game and ensuring that we are ready, are precise and accurate in what we do."

It proved to be enough three times last season. The challenge is there for Leinster to show that they have learned more in defeat than the Ospreys have in victory.

The Ospreys: R Fussell; H Dirksen, T Isaacs, A Bishop, E Walker; M Morgan, R Webb; D Jones, M Dwyer, J Rees, L Peers, J Thomas (capt), G Stowers, S Lewis, J Bearman.

Leinster: D Kearney; A Conway, B Macken, A Goodman, F Carr; I Madigan, I Boss; H van der Merwe, T Sexton, J Hagan, D Browne, D Toner, R Ruddock, S Jennings (capt), L Auva'a.


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