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Feek concerned by Cardiff Kiwis

LEINSTER scrum coach Greg Feek has warned his Leinster players about the heavy New Zealand influence that exists within the closed ranks of their next opponents, the Cardiff Blues, in the PRO12 League at the RDS on Friday night.

"The Blues have got some really good New Zealand import players there in terms of Xavier Rush, Paul Tito, Casey Laulala. They will be formidable," said Feek.

"They have also good defensive system. So, it is going to be tough for us to crack that down. We expect to see a side with a major number of their leaders still there.

"In terms of their systems, they will be pretty similar whether they have their internationals there or not," he added, in order to guard against complacency.

"This week is not just about building for the Heineken Cup. Cardiff are five points behind us in the table, but they have a game in hand as well. We want to stay where we are in the league."

Cardiff will have to make-do without eight Wales internationals in back-three operator Leigh Halfpenny, centre Jamie Roberts, scrum-half Lloyd Williams, wing Alex Cuthbert, props Gethin Jenkins and Scott Andrews, lock Bradley Davies and captain Sam Warburton.

This is a body of players that are nigh-on impossible to withdraw from a club squad without a seismic knock-on effect in what Cardiff will look to achieve in Dublin.

As Feek indicated, the burden of leadership and responsibility moves onto the shoulders of those who have come in from the outside.

Rush is making his way back from a back injury that forced him off against London Irish in the Heineken Cup, Tito is ever-present at lock and Laulala gives them real impact in the midfield.

While Ulster have chosen the South African route, Leinster have moved from the Australian to New Zealand style of progress under head coach Joe Schmidt, forwards guru Jono Gibbes and scrum doctor Feek.

They know only too well the dangers that captain Tito, number eight Rush and 16-stone centre Laulala bring to any occasion. A plan will be put in place.

PAUL TITO

All Blacks caps: 0

It says everything about Tito's place at the heart of the Blues that he still holds the office of captain even though Wales leader Sam Warburton is there too.

The ex-Wellington Hurricane is a stalwart worker and clever lineout expert, playing 112 times for Cardiff in all competitions well into his fifth season there.

XAVIER RUSH

All Blacks caps: 8

The former Auckland Blues captain was voted Cardiff's Supporters Player of the Season in his first year there in 2005-2006.

Known for his abrasive running and hard-hitting style of play, he led from the front as the Cardiff captain from the start of his second season at the club he has played with for seven seasons until Tito assumed the captain's role.

CASEY LAULALA

All Blacks caps: 2

The man born in Moto'otua, Samoa, made his All Black debut against Wales in November 2004 and won his second cap against Ireland in 2006.

Once seen as a natural choice at outside centre for the All Blacks, the former Canterbury Crusader could never build on his early reputation, landing in Cardiff in 2009 to become the fulcrum of their attack.


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