Belfast Telegraph

Leinster v Scarlets: Jack McGrath set to banish Cup blues as big hitters return

By Jonathan Bradley

Leinster have named an entirely new starting side to face table-topping Scarlets at the RDS in the PRO12 this evening (7.35pm).

Leo Cullen makes 15 changes to the team that secured a bonus-point win over a poor Treviso side last weekend with Irish internationals Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip all making their first starts since the World Cup, while wing Cian Kelleher and hooker James Tracy are handed their full senior debuts.

After starting last week, loosehead prop Jack McGrath begins the contest on the bench and he believes the best way to put Ireland's disappointing quarter-final exit in the rear view mirror is to focus on his province.

"It's back to business," said the man who featured in all five games at the tournament.

"The World Cup has been forgotten about and it's into Leinster mode now.

"Last week I got straight back into it. It was an important game against Treviso, we were happy to get the five points and get back into it.

"It does linger (the World Cup disappointment) but you have to forget about it. It's a different environment, different coaches, different team. You just have to get straight back into it and learn your plays.

"It's always exciting getting back playing with Leinster, playing with your province. There's a new coaching staff, it really is an exciting time, especially the players we have back as well.

"The quality is there so it was great to be back. It's a new challenge trying to learn all the plays in the week but I thought we did pretty well."

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac remains cautious but can't help but be encouraged by his side's unbeaten start to the season.

He said: "We've won the first six games and we're happy with where we're sitting in the PRO12 table.

"It's very early days but success breeds success and the confidence is growing with each victory.

"We're building a good camaraderie within the group. Don't underestimate a team that is working well together and enjoying the company and how that transforms into a good team performance."

Leinster: Rob Kearney, Zane Kirchner, Garry Ringrose, Noel Reid, Cian Kelleher, Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss, Cian Healy, James Tracy, Mike Ross, Devin Toner, Tom Denton, Dominic Ryan, Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip (c). Replacements: Bryan Byrne, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Hayden Triggs, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Jonathan Sexton, Ben Te'o.

Scarlets: Aled Thomas, Tom Williams, Gareth Owen, Hadleigh Parkes, Michael Tagicakibau, Dan Jones, Gareth Davies, Rob Evans, Emyr Phillips, Peter Edwards, Jake Ball, Lewis Rawlins, Aaron Shingler, James Davies, John Barclay (c).

Replacements: Ken Owens, Dylan Evans, Will Taylor, Tom Price, Maselino Paulino, Aled Davies, Michael Collins, Harry Robinson.

Belfast Telegraph

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