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McGrath's on mission to park in Van space

It could be Leinster's turn to face into a period of transition next season.

Jonathan Sexton will be gone. Brian O'Driscoll could be gone. Leo Cullen could be gone. Springbok prop Heinke van der Merwe will be gone, leaving an all-Irish squad of front rowers to do battle.

The exit of loose-head Van der Merwe at the end of the season opens the way for either the contracted Jack McGrath, 23, or Academy player Jack O'Connell, 22, to make a statement of intent. All they have to do is look at the progress of Munster's Dave Kilcoyne.

McGrath has started Leinster's last two matches.

"Me and Jack played together all the way up. It is going to be a good fight next year between the pair of us to either be starting or on the bench," said McGrath (pictured).

While Cian Healy is the recognised first choice number one, Van der Merwe has played 79 games, 44 from the start, for Leinster in less than three seasons.

This is quite a heavy workload, something McGrath feels he is ready to take on as a development of his career that has taken in 27 matches, eight as a starter, in four seasons. He has learned enough to be himself, not another version of Healy.

"I think I was picked on what I do well. I don't try and replicate him. I just play my own game. I wouldn't try and base my game around his," said McGrath.

"I am really enjoying my time at Leinster at the moment. It is great to have the opportunity to be able to play this block of four games while Cian is away to make an impression on Joe.

"I didn't have that much game time at the start of the season. But, I think it has come at the right time."

The Scarlets will come to Dublin on Saturday having lost two out of three to Leinster. There are vital points up for discussion.

"It will be the fourth time we've played them this season. We fairly know each other.

"It is definitely an eight-point game."


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