Friday, 14 December 2012

Leinster v Clermont Auvergre - Preview

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Heinke van der Merwe and Richardt Strauss return to the Leinster front row for Saturday's Heineken Cup Pool 5 game with Clermont Auvergne in Dublin.

They come in for Cian Healy and Sean Cronin, who drop to the bench.

Kevin McLaughlin is also named among the replacements after failing to take part in any contact sessions this week, so Shane Jennings joins the back row.

Eoin Reddan partners Jonathan Sexton in the only change to the backline which started last weekend's game in France.

Clermont coach Vern Cotter makes two changes to his pack from last weekend's win over the holders with prop Raphael Chaume replacing Vincent Debaty and Julien Bardy drafted in at flanker in place of Alexandre Lapandry.

Clermont defeated the reigning Heineken Cup champions 15-12 on that occasion to establish a five-point lead at the top of the pool.

Springbok van der Merwe takes his place at prop after recovering from injury.

Skipper Leo Cullen continues his second row partnership with Damian Browne while Jennings, a second-half replacement in Clermont last weekend, starts in the back row alongside fellow Ireland internationals Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

New Zealander Andrew Goodman made an impressive debut in Sunday's narrow defeat and retains his place at centre, alongside midfield partner Gordon D'Arcy.

Coach Joe Schmidt has decided to recall Reddan at scrum-half, rather than retain Isaac Boss in the number nine shirt.

Boss started at the weekend but was replaced by Reddan after 65 minutes.

David Kearney has recovered from injury to take his place amongst a replacements' bench which features several Ireland internationals.

After last weekend's defeat in France, Leinster may need to win their remaining three Pool 5 games to keep alive their hopes of winning a fourth Heineken Cup in five seasons.

Luke Fitzgerald is said to be recovering well from injury and could be in contention for the Christmas period Pro12 games against Ulster and Connacht.

O'Brien, impressive on his return to action at the weekend, will make his 75th European appearance for Leinster on Saturday.

Leinster: Ian Madigan; Fergus McFadden, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Goodman, Isa Nacewa; Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross; Leo Cullen (capt), Damian Browne; Sean O'Brien, Shane Jennings, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Michael Bent, Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin, Isaac Boss, Andrew Conway, Dave Kearney.

Clermont Auvergne: Lee Byrne; Sitiveni Sivivatu, Aurélien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Napolioni Nalaga, Brock James, Morgan Parra; Raphael Chaume, Benjamin Kayser, Davit Zirakashvili; Jamie Cudmore, Nathan Hines; Julien Bonnaire, Julien Bardy, Damien Chouly,

Replacements: Ti'i Paulo, Vincent Debaty, Daniel Kotze, Loic Jacquet, Alexandre Lapandry, Ludovic Radoslavjevic, David Skrela,Regan King.

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