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Halfpenny ready for Leinster clash

Leigh Halfpenny wants Cardiff Blues to take a leaf out of Wales' book when they face mission improbable against Heineken Cup holders Leinster.

The Blues will arrive in Dublin without injured Wales stars Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts, while the dust is still settling on the Gavin Henson sacking saga.

"A lot of the Leinster players were in the Irish team at the Aviva in February, and a lot of them will feel at home there, but we have to do the same as we did with Wales," Halfpenny said.

Heineken Cup history is also stacked against the Blues in that of the tournament's 60 previous quarter-final ties, only 14 have produced away victories.

But the Wales full-back, who returns to the Aviva Stadium nine weeks after his successful late penalty launched what became a Six Nations title and Grand Slam-winning campaign, is relishing a latest tilt at toppling Ireland's finest.

"People are writing us off, saying the odds are stacked against us and we have no chance, but we have to take that as motivation and go there with the belief that we can give it everything and get a result," he said.

Dafydd Hewitt replaces Roberts in midfield alongside Casey Laulala, while Halfpenny is among four players starting that were involved in Wales' match-day 22 when they beat France to clinch the Grand Slam three weeks ago.

Leinster include a fit-again Brian O'Driscoll for his first European start this term, with New Zealand World Cup-winning lock Brad Thorn handed a Heineken Cup debut alongside second-row partner and captain Leo Cullen.

Leinster have not lost a Heineken clash in Dublin for almost six years, but the reigning European champions are taking nothing for granted.

"The Blues are a much better side than some of their Pro12 results suggest, and we know how dangerous they can be when they have their full-strength side out," Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes said.


From Belfast Telegraph