Wednesday 21 March 2018

Leinster stay positive ahead of test of strength


It might be a picture postcard scene in Swansea today. Or just grim. Leinster travel with a decent side which features a first start for tighthead Clint Newland. Despite the absence of the international contingent, they are upbeat about continuing impressive form.

"Things are shaping up well and if we can win on Sunday that will mean that we will have been unbeaten for two months," says Fergus McFadden. "I think that the squad deserve credit for our recent results against Edinburgh and the Dragons and it's going to be another massive test of our resources with the game falling on another international weekend.

"The Leinster first XV are tried and tested but perhaps people don't realise the strength in depth in the squad and all I can say is that there's great freshness and enthusiasm in the squad each week. It's a pleasure to be playing in this team."

It remains to be seen how the Ospreys feel about this fixture. On top of their 12 players on Test duty, they have another nine on the treatment table. And yet only one potential debutant made it into the match-day squad where hooker Joe Rees is hoping to make the breakthrough. So they have depth.

In the circumstances, Ospreys' form guide is perhaps not the most reliable tool, especially with two of their last three games coming in the LV= Cup when all sorts are likely to feature, but in any case they were blessed to get out of the Sportsground with four points last weekend.

"They're one of the toughest teams in the league," maintains McFadden. "And even though they have a lost a lot of players to international duty, like ourselves, they have picked up two big results against Leicester (in the LV= Cup) and away to Connacht last weekend. The Magners League Grand Final result still hurts us and we will use that chip on our shoulder as a motivation. They beat us on our home patch in front of our families and our supporters and it was a tough day. This weekend is about picking up points. We know how strong they can be, particularly in the Liberty Stadium."

Ospreys: B Davies; G Owen, S Parker, A Beck, R Fussell; D Biggar, R Webb; D Jones, R Hibbard, C Mitchell, I Gough, I Evans, J Tipuric, J Collins (capt), M Holah. Reps: M Davies, J Rees, C Griffiths, J Goode, T Smith, J Nutbrown, M Morgan, T Isaacs

Leinster: I Nacewa; S Horgan, E O'Malley, F McFadden, A Conway; I Madigan, I Boss; H ven der Merwe, J Harris-Wright, C Newland, L Cullen (capt), E O'Donoghue, D Ryan, S Keogh, S Jennings. Reps: T Sexton, J McGrath, M Ross, E Sheriff, R Ruddock, I McKinley, D Kearney.

Referee: J Lacey (IRFU)

Ospreys v Leinster,

TG4 5.0

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