Belfast Telegraph

Kearney heads big names set to return to Leinster line-up

By Cian Tracey

It's been a long 16-week lay-off for Dave Kearney but he will finally complete his comeback when Leinster face Treviso tomorrow.

Kearney returns after an ankle injury, while Mike Ross (hamstring) and Joey Carbery (ankle) will do the same from the bench.

Carbery in particular will hope to get enough game time between tomorrow and next week in order to force his way back into the Ireland squad for the showdown against France.

Backs coach Girvan Dempsey expects a tough clash against the Italians, who include former Leinster out-half Ian McKinley in their starting XV.

"Traditionally they've always had a strong pack," Dempsey said.

"They've always been very physical - aggressive defence - and they score tries if you give them the opportunity which they showed against us in the RDS.

"We knocked off and they managed to get in behind us and take their opportunities. It's going to be a test for us.

"It's a great opportunity for guys coming back from injury and also for young guys to grab hold of the jersey and not let go."

Meanwhile, it was during the international windows last season that Connacht really thrived and if the defending champions are to get their season back on track, a win in Cardiff tomorrow is imperative.

Tiernan O'Halloran must be wondering what he has to do to earn his chance in the Ireland set-up but he will have to put his disappointment to one side as he returns at full-back for the Westerners.

Just six points separate the two teams before kick-off but, crucially, Connacht have a game in hand on Cardiff.

It's been a frustrating season at the Sportsground but Pat Lam believes that his side have been rejuvenated by the break.

"While it was good to get the break and a chance to work away on different aspects of our game, we're all really looking forward to going out and playing this weekend," he said.

"Cardiff have always been tough opponents for us, particularly away from home where so many games have gone right down to the wire.

"We expect a big challenge again and we know there is little room for error as we look to improve our overall performance."

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