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Jordi's ready for new role

Connacht v Leinster

Sportsground, Today 7.15 (Live TG4)

Coach Matt O'Connor's has given the clearest indication yet that Jordi Murphy can be the heir apparent to any position in the Leinster back row.

The selection of Murphy at openside ahead of Dominic Ryan must have come as a sickening blow to the latter, one week before the test of playing the French champions Castres Olympique in their backyard in Europe.

For the moment, Murphy is content to play anywhere in the back row, his versatility making him a popular choice for O'Connor in an area crammed with quality players.

Ironically, Ryan started out as a blindside at Age Grade level, making the transition to seven, while Murphy often played at openside at that level before switching to number eight and blindside.

The sheer explosive ball carrying of Murphy makes him a ready-made replacement for Seán O'Brien as Leinster are already without the Tullow Tank and Cian Healy for the go-forward that will be paramount at Castres.

O'Connor has plumped for, arguably, his strongest selection available tonight with the possible exception of openside Shane Jennings, wing Dave Kearney, prop Mike Ross and second row Mike McCarthy.

Leinster are going to have to bring one simple mantra with them to Galway: 'A really is for Attitude'.

"When we look at Connacht and the Sportsground, we know we are going to have to be on top of our game to come away with the four points," said Dave Kearney.

"They have shown in Europe, particularly at Toulouse, what level of performance they can find when they play well and they bring that attitude."

Former Leinster players Fionn Carr, Matt Healy, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White and Mick Kearney will start for Connacht, with Paul O'Donohoe on the bench.


"There are a lot of guys there who would have been at Leinster. They know what we are like and, to an extent, how we like to play.

"It is nothing new to them," said Kearney.

Connacht have been eaten into by an extensive injury list, including their two natural opensides in Willie Faloon and Jake Heenan and full-back Gavin Duffy.

John Muldoon will sacrifice for the cause from the openside with Andrew Browne and Eoin McKeon completing a physically strong back row.

Ireland U20 Daragh Leader fills the 15 jersey with Robbie Henshaw and Eoin Griffin in the centre opposite Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy.

It also includes two of their recognised fly-halfs, Craig Ronaldson and Miah Nikora. Coach Pat Lam has refused to look to veteran 10 Dan Parks.

Instead, he had given the reins to Jack Carty, 21, to make his first competitive start for the province outside Kieron Marmion in what amounts to a calculated risk.

"Jack has been involved with us in training all year and has had some good performances with the Eagles," said Lam.

"It is a great boost to his development as a young Irish qualified 10 to play against such quality opposition and I know he is very much looking forward to the test.

"We have an extremely young backline going up against the best team in Europe and the league champions," Lam added.

"But we have a belief in our young squad and if every player does their job and commits to the game plan we've put in place, then we have every chance of getting the desired result."

The chasm in experience between these two sets of players makes Leinster the hottest of favourites to do what they did not at the Sportsground last season – win.

Connacht: D Leader; F Carr, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White, M Kearney, C Clarke (capt), A Browne, J Muldoon, E McKeon.

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Moore, D Toner, T Denton, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip (capt).