Friday 19 January 2018

Making the step up

Players who have worn the Leinster No 13 jersey in Brian O'Driscoll's absence in the Heineken Cup.


(2001 v Newport)

Australian centre, brought over by countryman Matt Williams from the Brumbies. Played six Heineken Cup and 11 Celtic League matches for Leinster between 2001 and 2003 but was always a back-up rather than a go-to player. Had a greater impact for Lansdowne in the All-Ireland League.


(2004 v Sale, Cardiff, Biarritz; 2005 v Bath, Glasgow, Bourgoin x 2)

O'Driscoll's regular midfield partner has slotted in effectively at 13 in the past, with Shane Horgan at inside centre. Glen Ella switched him from the back three to centre in 2004 and D'Arcy's midfield performance in the 23-16 victory at Sale was a foretaste of the superb form that would make him Six Nations player of the season a few months later. D'Arcy's excellent November displays evoked memories of that breakthrough 2004 season.


(2007 v Edinburgh, Wasps)

Squad player who could fill in at centre or wing, Lewis played 11 Heineken Cup games for Leinster before switching to Munster where he collected a Heineken Cup winner's medal after coming off the bench in the pool game against Clermont. Still only 30, Lewis is part of a Lansdowne backline packed with professional experience.


(2010 v Saracens)

Filled in for O'Driscoll at Wembley in October but went off injured after 47 minutes, with Fergus McFadden coming off the bench. Fitzgerald, not due back from his knee injury until after Christmas, has the stepping skills to thrive in midfield but full-back is his preferred role, while he has excelled on the left wing for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions.

Irish Independent

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