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Leinster's cubs showing claws

Here are three names, not exactly for your notebook - Tadhg Furlong, Dan Leavy and Cian Kelleher - from Leinster's 33-21 pre-season downer against Northampton Saints on Saturday.

Tight-head Furlong started out against England's Alex Corbisiero and acquitted himself better than well in handling the British & Irish Lions loose-head without too much bother.

UNFORGIVING

A series of unconnected injuries over the last two seasons dramatically reduced Furlong's opportunity to learn his scrummaging trade in a most unforgiving position.

An uninterrupted season would enable him to load the pressure down on Mike Ross and Martin Moore as Leinster, even Ireland's anchor for the 2015 World Cup. Look where Moore came from last season.

This year's official Ireland U20 captain Dan Leavy - he missed out on most of the Age-Grade Six Nations and all of the World Cup - looks ready for life in the professional lane.

The 20-year-old made a similar impact, that time from the bench, against The Saints in last year's pre-season set-to at Donnybrook and was then removed from making a play for game time by the spectre of injury.

Long seen as a racing, certainty to rapidly rise through the ranks of the game, Leavy excelled against Northampton Saturday working against the decorated back row of Phil Dowson, Tom Wood and Samu Manoa.

Twenty-year old Kelleher was always seen as one step behind fellow Academy asset Billy Dardis, 19, in the schools system.

But, he truly blossomed last season, most notably at the World Cup where he was sensational, especially as a one-man counter-attack.

Admittedly on limited evidence, Kelleher is beginning to mature into one of those off-the-cuff, instinctive runners simply able to exploit space and defenders.

The outrageously gifted Dardis still has one more season at U20 level and he was not out of his depth at Franklins Gardens where none other than Ben Foden stood opposite him.

Leinster's second pre-season match will come against Ulster next Saturday when the trio of Furlong, Leavy and 
Kelleher will look to build from a strong base.


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