Thursday 19 September 2019

Leinster big guns back for crucial Champions Cup clash against Bath

Leinster's Rob Kearney, left, and Isa Nacewa watch squad training
Leinster's Rob Kearney, left, and Isa Nacewa watch squad training

Des Berry

Leinster will have captain Isa Nacewa, Ben Te’o, Luke Fitzgerald and Rhys Ruddock back from injury for a make-or-break Champions Cup tie at Bath tomorrow.

Coach Leo Cullen has left Wasps starters scrum-half Eoin Reddan and centre Noel Reid out of his 23-man squad.

Overall, there are eight changes as prop Cian Healy, hooker Sean Cronin, lock Hayden Triggs and scrum-half Isaac Boss enter in what look like a much stronger lineup.

However, Jack Conan will be out for the next eight to ten weeks.

The back row forward broke his foot in training this week to heap frustration upon frustration just when Leinster need all hands on deck for Bath in The Champions Cup.

This comes in tandem with the news that Seán O’Brien, Richardt Strauss and Mike McCarthy have been ruled out as they continue the return-to-play process from their concussions.

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It will all start up front where Leinster’s front five have to make a better impression on Bath than they did on Wasps.

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Devin Toner will have to get his head around the challenge of powering up the scrum and lineout. 

There has been another week in which to shed those Ireland calls and systems and reinforce Leinster’s.

“It is a challenge and there is stuff to get our heads around, switching from lineout system to another system, particularly as forwards you’ve to get your head around that,” said Toner (pictured).

“Mainly it’s just the calls and the different shape, plays and stuff. A lot of us are very used to it these days coming in and out of camp all the time.

“I don’t see it as an issue to be honest.”

That didn’t seem to be the issue last Sunday against a fierce Wasps scrum.

The same could not be said for a lineout in which neither Brad ley Davies or Joe Launchbury are world-beaters.

The open and often wild Recreation Ground can be quite heavy underfoot.

Bath’s plans to redevelop have been dogged by planning in one of the most beautiful cities in England.

There is a strange irony here in that coach Mike Ford has devised the most exciting style of rugby in The Premiership on a surface not fit for that purpose.  

“The changing rooms are tiny,” said the 6’10” lock.

“It’s a great city to go and a great place to go and play.

“I suppose, if we go and play our game, we’ll be alright.”

Leinster (v Bath): I Nacewa (capt); F McFadden, B Te’o, L Fitzgerald, D Kearney; J Sexton, I Boss; C Healy, S Cronin, M Ross, D Toner, H Triggs, R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip. Replacements: J Tracy, J McGrath, M Moore, D Ryan, J van der Flier; L McGrath, I Madigan, Z Kirchner.

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