Saturday 20 January 2018

Madigan and Reddan axed as O'Connor gets tough for European opener

Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has dropped Eoin Reddan and Ian Madigan (right) from his starting line-up for this evening's Heineken Cup opener against Ospreys in Swansea.

Both men will have been eyeing up Ireland places this November, but O'Connor has shaken up a side who lost in the Pro12 to Munster last week as he seeks to kickstart his debut European campaign with an away win in the one of the competition's toughest pools.

And, with Brian O'Driscoll joining fellow veterans Shane Jennings and Leo Cullen on the sideline, O'Connor has been forced to hand Brendan Macken a Heineken Cup debut alongside Gordon D'Arcy in midfield.

New signing Jimmy Gopperth will start as first-choice out-half, albeit his partnership with Isaac Boss closely resembles the away-day selections favoured by predecessor Joe Schmidt.

"It makes no difference for us who is at out-half," said wing Dave Kearney. " You're always switching in and out, so we're getting the same amount of time with whoever is picked at 10 or in any position.

"The two lads are going really well at the moment so that's good for Leinster. They're both really talented 10s. We're comfortable."

Ospreys have underachieved in Europe but they are a bogey side for Leinster and they have promised to rock in their Heineken Cup opener.

"I'm confident we can take our performance up a notch or two because we want to rock in this Heineken Cup," said their Lions hooker Richard Hibbard.

"I've got a feeling this could be one of the biggest and best games in the history of the Ospreys in the Heineken. It's a plum fixture and you've got to win your home games.

"We've got Leinster, three times Heineken holders and who did the double last season in the Amlin Challenge Cup and Pro12, coming to our place. There's no need for any extra motivation."

Munster begin their campaign with a seemingly easier task away to Edinburgh where they will be expected to pick up the win even without captain Peter O'Mahony.

Irish Independent

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