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Leinster must cope without injured stars

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has had to leave injured duo Dave Kearney and Dominic Ryan out of his plans to thwart Harlequins at The Stoop.

This means the return of Luke Fitzgerald to the left wing and Jordi Murphy to the openside.

The thumb surgery to Fergus McFadden also possibly forced the coach's hand at centre where Gordon D'Arcy moves out one slot for Ian Madigan to man the inside berth.

In-form wing Darragh Fanning is preferred to Zane Kirchner and Kane Douglas is also reserved for the bench.

Conor O'Shea has often talked, in the past, about how he wants to entertain and enthral the home supporters at The Stoop.

The last thing you do with an animal so intent on looking for the game to break open is to feed its instinct.

O'Connor is nobody's fool: "Their current form is largely irrelevant. They have four or five guys who are very instrumental away with England.

"Their form in Europe's been brilliant. They're two from two," he said.

"That's our focus in making sure we're ready for the challenges that go with that."

It wasn't that long ago Leinster were seen as the epitome of what O'Shea aspired to as a heads-up, play-it-as-you-see-it outfit keen to exploit weakness wherever they found it.

Leinster have become more pragmatic under Matt O'Connor. The aesthetics are not there. But, the focus on the game plan is in place.

O'Connor would like to think this is the time for a reminder not of what Leinster have done this season, but what they can do because the game is all about tomorrow, not yesterday.

"It's about being accurate in what you do. It's no bigger issue than that," he said.


"Away from home in Europe, you've got to make sure your discipline is good, you've got to make sure your set-piece is good, you've got to make sure you look after the ball.

"If you deliver those things, away from home, you manage the scoreboard, you manage field position, you give yourself every chance."

The return of Ireland international forwards Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock and Jamie Heaslip should open up options to Leinster in how they threaten Harlequins.

"We need to make sure that we deliver on our plan and we do things on our terms, so that we can manage the outcome."

Leinster: R Kearney; D Fanning, G D'Arcy, I Madigan, L Fitzgerald; J Gopperth, E Reddan; J McGrath, S Cronin, M Ross, D Toner, M McCarthy, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip (capt). Replacements: B Byrne, M Bent, T Furlong, K Douglas, J Conan; I Boss, N Reid, Z Kirchner.

Verdict: Leinster