Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Kearney robbed of best position

Rob Kearney

Leinster coach Michael Cheika has been rightly credited with bringing through an array of Irish talent since he took the reins five seasons ago, names that will buttress Ireland's World Cup assault in New Zealand in 2011.

However, his selection for tonight's Magners League clash with pace-setters Glasgow — presuming it goes ahead — is not ideal from Ireland's Six Nations point of view.

Rob Kearney made his Ireland debut against Argentina in 2007 with the No 11 jersey on his back and was not capped in his best position of full-back until his fifth international appearance, against Wales in the 2008 Six Nations.

He guested on the left wing four more times for his country but, since Ireland suited up for their Grand Slam drive last year, Kearney has been the man at 15, in a year that included a stunning three-Test show for the Lions, and you wouldn’t find too many quibblers if he was picked at full-back on a World XV.

He has been switched to the wing regularly by the European champions to accommodate Girvan Dempsey and Isa Nacewa and now finds himself in the No 11 jersey once again.

Luke Fitzgerald's injury robs Cheika of his regular left winger and his strongest team would have Nacewa in that position with Shane Horgan on the right and Kearney at the back. The ever-efficient Dempsey gets the 15 jersey this evening but is more than capable of doing a job on the left.

Kearney should be restored to full-back for Leinster's final two Heineken Cup pool games and Ireland's Six Nations campaign.

There is more encouraging news for Kidney with the welcome returns of Jonathan Sexton to the out-half slot following his broken hand and Shane Jennings to the back-row after 12 frustrating weeks on the sidelines following his questionable suspension.

Fergus McFadden and Brian O'Driscoll form a dangerous midfield combination.

Cheika's men have won their last 10 league matches in the RDS and have the quality and desire to freeze Glasgow ambition tonight.

LEINSTER: G Dempsey; I Nacewa, B O'Driscoll, F McFadden, R Kearney; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, J Fogarty, S Wright; D Toner, N Hines; K McLaughlin, S Jennings (capt), J Heaslip. Reps: B Jackman, M Ross, M O'Kelly, Stephen Keogh, P O'Donohoe, S Berne, Simon Keogh.

GLASGOW: B Stortoni; D van der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, T Evans; D Parks, C Cusiter; J Welsh, D Hall, M Low; A Kellock (capt), R Gray; K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie. Reps: F Thomson, K Tkachuk, D Turner, J Eddie, C Gregor, R Jackson, R Dewey.

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