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McFadden’s chance

It says something for Leinster's development from a province perennially tugging at Munster's forelock to world brand leaders themselves that their “weakened” team travelling west today still features nine Irish internationals.

Even though Michael Cheika's side is debilitated by the absence of talismanic Grand Slam heroes such as Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney, the Heineken Cup champions appear an ominous proposition.

Of those most keen to impress in Leinster colours today is, arguably, a player who Connacht would covet were those in charge of Irish rugby faintly touched with a belief that having a fourth province is worth more than mere geographical window dressing.

Fergus McFadden has already made nine appearances for Leinster this season, but only the most myopic — ie those paid by the province — can argue that his career is best served by playing second fiddle to Messrs O'Driscoll, D'Arcy and co.

Of his 18 appearances, half have come from the bench, while it wasn't until this season that he made his Heineken Cup debut; more than two years after his Magners League debut.

The most damning statistic is that he has played just 26 minutes of Heineken Cup rugby, and all of those in the last month.

Yet such is Leinster's crisis at out-half, or, more specifically, a crisis of goal-kicking, McFadden has become indispensable with Jonathan Sexton's much-needed return to action postponed for another week.

Helping Leinster avoid an embarrassing defeat would aid McFadden's attempts to nail down a regular squad berth.

Belfast Telegraph