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Schmidt: I'd be happy anywhere in top four

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16 February 2013; Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt durign the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 15, Leinster v Benetton Treviso, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

16 February 2013; Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt durign the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 15, Leinster v Benetton Treviso, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

16 February 2013; Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt durign the game. Celtic League 2012/13, Round 15, Leinster v Benetton Treviso, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster v The Scarlets, The RDS, Tonight (KO 7.45) Live TG4

Coach Joe Schmidt has lost Jonathan Sexton to injury and Ian Madigan to Ireland, leaving Noel Reid to step into the out-half role for Leinster that Paddy Jackson will play for Ireland.

Now that the fixation on the Heineken Cup has been removed from Leinster's vision of the near future, the PRO12 and the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final, away to London Wasps, still leave the club battling it out on two fronts.

There is regret that Leinster have been beaten in the last three league finals, by the Ospreys twice, both at the RDS in 2010 and 2012, and by Munster at Thomond Park in 2011.

It is becoming something of an itch that badly needs scratching: "The PRO12, we'd dearly love to win it," said Schmidt.

"We felt a little bit of grief last year that we had an early injury to (Mike) Rossy, two yellow cards that you could debate pretty strongly, and you lose by a point.

"At the same time, the Ospreys are a pretty good side, so you don't start whinging. You just make sure that the resolve is there to try to get to that position again. And go one better."

At present, Leinster are lodged in third with The Scarlets three points away in fourth. This has an eight-point feel to it with the home side holding a 2-1 lead from their three meetings this season in the PRO12 and Heineken.

"Idealistically, it is great if you can make that top two, without a doubt. Realistically, I would be happy to be anywhere in the top four," said Schmidt.

"If we can survive these next two games, some of the players who have played the last two will have put their hands up and will keep any of the international players really honest when they return."

Captain Leo Cullen and flanker Shane Jennings return to first-team action, Rhys Ruddock dropping to the bench where he also finds Madigan and Fergus McFadden.

"It is always a nice time of the year. I've found in the last two years, when everyone is back together and they're through to the end, you can consolidate the group," added Schmidt.

"We tend to play some of our best rugby in that period because you get a continuity of playing week-to-week."

Leinster: D Kearney; A Conway, E O'Malley, A Goodman, F Carr; N Reid, I Boss; J McGrath, A Dundon, M Bent, L Cullen (capt), B Marshall, D Ryan, S Jennings, J Murphy.

The Scarlets: A Thomas; N Reynolds, G Maule, A Warren, A Fenby; O Williams, A Davies; P John, E Phillips, J Adriaanse, G Earle, J Snyman, A Shingler, J Turnbull, R McCusker (capt).


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